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v.  /83 

Field  Museum  op  Natural  History 

Founded  by  Marshall  Field,  1893 

Publication  300 
Anthropological  Series  Volume  XVIII,  No.  3 



Berthold  Laufer 


4  Plates  in  Photogravure 

CHICAGO,  U.  S.  A. 

Field  Museum  of  Natural  History 

Founded  by  Marshall  Field,  1893 

Publication  300 
Anthropological  Series  Volume  XVIII,  No.  3 



Berthold  Laufer 

CURATOR,   DEPARTMENT  OF  ANTHROPOLOGT«"  t    LID  ft  Alii     Ul      I  tit 

OCT  8  -  1931 

4  Plates  in  Photogravure 


CHICAGO,  U.  S.  A. 







List  of  Illustrations 203 

Introduction 205 

Chinese  Terminology 208 

Japanese  Terminology 211 

Historical  Data 212 

Geographical  Distribution 227 

Relation  of  Japanese  to  Chinese  Cormorant  Fishing 232 

The  Process  of  Domestication 236 

Relation  of  Cormorant  to  Otter  Fishing  and  Egret  Taming ....  249 

Iconography 251 

Folk-lore  of  the  Cormorant 255 

Bibliography , 258 

Index 260 



XIII.  White  Porcelain  Jar,  Yung-cheng  Period  (1723-35).     With 

painting  in  enamel  colors  of  a  fisherman  carrying  two 
cormorants  on  a  bamboo  pole.  Cat.  No.  180387. 
Presented  by  American  Friends  of  China,  Chicago. 

XIV.  Cormorant  Fisher.    Finger-painting  by  Kao  K'i-p'ei.    Dated 


XV-XVI.  Cormorant  Fishing  on  Bamboo  Raft  on  Min  River  near 
Fuchow,  Fu-kien  Province.  Photographs  taken  by  Mr. 
Floyd  Tangier  Smith. 

Vignette  on  page  205.   Jade  Carving  of  a  Cormorant  of  the 
Chou  Period.    Cat.  No.  183296. 




However  much  has  been  written  on  cormorant  fishing 
in  China  and  Japan,  beginning  with  Friar  Odoric  of 
Pordenone,  no  one  has  ever  made  a  serious  study  of 
the  subject,  nor  has  any  one  ever  consulted  the  Chinese 
sources  relating  to  it.  The  present  study  attempts  to 
fill  this  gap.  For  more  than  twenty-five  years  I  have 
been  interested  in  the  domestications  of  animals,  espe- 
cially in  problems  as  to  when,  where,  how,  and  why 
domestications  originated  and  developed.  In  the  course  of  these 
studies  when  I  perused  all  general  books  on  domestications  and  a 
great  many  monographs  on  specific  subjects,  I  was  struck  by  the 
fact  that  China  and  Japan  are  hardly  mentioned  in  this  literature 
and,  if  so  occasionally,  data  and  conclusions  are  usually  wrong.  This 
state  of  affairs  should  not  be  allowed  to  continue.  The  Chinese  have 
preserved  a  vast  amount  of  interesting  material,  both  in  literary 
records  and  works  of  art,  bearing  upon  domesticated  animals,  which 
if  properly  used  and  correctly  interpreted,  is  bound  to  be  of  great 
service  to  our  science. 

The  problem  of  the  domestication  of  the  cormorant  is  the  more 
interesting,  as  it  is  a  typically  and  characteristically  Chinese  domesti- 
cation. Of  all  nations  of  the  world,  the  Chinese  is  the  only  one 
that  has  brought  the  cormorant  into  a  complete  and  perfect  state  of 
domestication,  the  birds  propagating  and  being  bred  in  captivity. 
The  fact  is  the  more  striking,  as  the  cormorant  is  a  cosmopolitan 
diffused  over  nearly  the  entire  world,  so  that  other  nations  had 
the  same  opportunity,  but  they  did  not  seize  it,  nay,  probably  did 
not  even  see  it.  In  Japan,  the  cormorant  is  semi-domesticated  at 
present,  but  there  is  a  possibility  that  there  also  it  was  truly  domesti- 
cated in  former  ages.  Here  the  interesting  problem  arises  as  to  the 
relationship  of  Chinese  and  Japanese  cormorant  fishing,  and  it  will 
be  seen  that  it  is  a  complex  question  which  if  studied  at  close  range 
is  widely  different  from  what  at  the  outset  might  be  expected. 

Dr.  Gudger  (I  and  II,  consult  Bibliography  at  end)  has  in  recent 
years  published  two  interesting  articles  on  cormorant  fishing  in  China 
and  Japan.     Being  an  ichthyologist  and  primarily  interested  in 


206  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

methods  of  fishing,  he  has  treated  the  subject  from  this  point  of 
view  and  in  a  bibliographical  manner.  He  passes  in  review,  usually 
quoting  the  text  completely,  the  more  important  accounts  of  cor- 
morant fishing  extant  in  European  literature  from  Odoric  down  to 
recent  times.  Few  of  these  accounts  are  of  importance,  or  add 
much  to  our  knowledge  of  the  subject;  most  of  them  give  surface 
observations  of  the  fishing  method,  but  say  little  or  nothing  about 
the  cormorant  itself.  Fortune  and  Fauvel  are  praiseworthy  excep- 
tions and  have  given  us  data  of  scientific  value.  The  more  recent, 
the  more  stereotyped  and  duller  the  accounts  of  travelers  become, 
and  it  is  difficult  to  judge  what  is  due  to  their  own  observations  and 
what  they  copied  from  their  predecessors.  In  the  eighteenth  and 
nineteenth  centuries  when  China  was  merely  a  cabinet  of  curiosities 
in  the  eyes  of  European  readers,  cormorant  fishing  was  not  allowed 
to  be  wanting  in  any  book  on  "China  and  the  Chinese"  and  held 
its  place  alongside  with  birds'  nests,  dog  and  cat  flesh,  crippled  feet, 
eunuchs,  punishments  and  tortures. 

Cormorant  fishing  was  practised  in  Europe  as  a  transient  sport 
toward  the  end  of  the  sixteenth  or  beginning  of  the  seventeenth 
century  when  it  appeared  almost  simultaneously  at  both  the  English 
and  French  courts. 

James  I  took  great  delight  in  fishing  with  trained  cormorants 
(as  he  did  also  in  watching  his  tame  otters,  which  were  trained  for 
a  similar  purpose),  and  John  Wood  was  appointed  "master  of  the 
royal  cormorants."  In  1618  the  king  decided  to  build  a  house  and 
make  ponds  for  his  cormorants,  ospreys,  and  otters  at  Westminster. 
In  1609  fishing  cormorants  were  demonstrated  at  Fontainebleau 
before  Louis  XIII  when  he  was  dauphin.  In  the  nineteenth  century 
cormorant  fishing  was  revived  in  England  by  Captain  F.  H.  Salvin 
and  in  France  by  P.  A.  Pichot. 

Harting  (p.  427)  holds  that  it  is  not  unlikely  that  the  sport  was 
first  made  known  in  Europe  by  the  Hollanders,  who  besides  being 
enterprising  navigators  and  traders  in  the  East,  have  in  all  ages 
been  known  as  skilful  falconers  and  great  bird  fanciers.  Likewise 
Pichot  (p.  27)  observes  that  cormorant  fishing  has  come  to  us  from 
the  Far  East  and  that  it  appears  to  have  been  introduced  into  Europe 
by  the  Hollanders  in  the  beginning  of  the  sixteenth  century.  Free- 
man and  Salvin  (p.  328)  report  two  instances  of  cormorants  having 
been  brought  to  England  from  Holland,  where  they  had  been  trained. 

Yule  (Cathay,  new  ed.  by  Cordier,  II,  p.  189)  is  mistaken  in 
saying  that  the  English  bird  was  formerly  used  for  fishing  both  in 

Introduction  207 

England  and  in  Holland  quite  in  the  Chinese  way.  This,  a  priori, 
is  utterly  impossible,  as  the  Chinese  bird  is  thoroughly  domesticated, 
while  his  European  cousin  was  never  domesticated,  but  merely 
trained  for  hunting  fish. 

In  England  the  training  of  the  cormorant  was  practised  in  adapta- 
tion of  that  of  the  falcon.  The  birds  were  hoodwinked  when  carried 
out  of  their  enclosures  to  the  fish-ponds  so  that  they  might  not  be 
frightened.  The  hoods  were  taken  off  on  arrival  at  the  fishing 
ground.  When  returning  from  fishing,  the  keepers  called  them  to 
their  fist,  and  the  birds  were  carried  on  the  gloved  hand  like  a  falcon. 
Nearly  all  the  sportsmen  of  England  and  France  interested  in  the 
cormorant  were  originally  falconers.  Thus  Pichot  (p.  27)  admits 
that  he  learned  the  use  of  the  cormorant  from  John  Barr,  a  falconer 
from  Scotland.  This  falconry  method  of  cormorant  fishing  was 
never  practised  in  China,  and  is  peculiar  to  Europe.  While  it  has 
but  little  interest  to  the  student  of  cormorant  domestication,  the 
notes  of  European  cormorant  trainers  like  Harting,  Salvin,  and 
Pichot  on  the  behavior  of  the  bird  are  apt  to  offer  him  valuable 

Hunting  with  cormorants  remained  restricted  to  Holland, 
England,  and  France.  In  Germany  where  cormorants  were  occa- 
sionally hunted  (J.  Wimmer,  Geschichte  des  deutschen  Bodens, 
1905,  p.  363)  no  attempts  at  training  them  were  made;  neither  in 
Scandinavia.  Olaus  Magnus  (Compendious  History  of  the  Goths, 
Swedes,  and  Vandals,  1558,  p.  199)  briefly  describes  the  cormorant 
under  the  name  "water-crow  or  eel-rook,"  but  does  not  allude  to 
fishing  with  cormorants. 

The  cormorant  of  China  does  not  constitute,  as  was  formerly 
assumed,  a  species  of  its  own,  being  paraded  under  such  hard  names 
as  Hydrocorax  sinensis  Vieillot,  or  Pelecarus  sinensis  Latham,  or 
Phalacrocorax  sinensis.  According  to  Armand  David  (Les  oiseaux 
de  la  Chine,  p.  532)  and  other  ornithologists,  the  Chinese  cormorant 
is  identical  with  that  of  Europe,  and  must  simply  be  termed  Phala- 
crocorax carbo  Schr.  Swinhoe.  The  species  is  diffused  as  far  north 
as  Kamchatka,  and  is  very  common  along  the  entire  coast  of  China 
and  on  lakes  and  rivers  in  the  interior  of  the  country,  as  well  as  in 
Mongolia.  Moreover,  this  species  is  widely  distributed  along  the 
Atlantic  coast  of  North  and  South  America,  in  South  Greenland, 
Iceland,  the  Faroe  Islands,  Europe,  Asia,  Africa,  Australia,  and  New 


§$  i,  M  M  lu-ts'e  (written  language),  also  pronounced  lu-se, 
Phalacrocorax  carbo.  The  Er  ya  Hf  3£  gives  the  name  of  the  cor- 
morant as  i  or  ts'e  i  M  M,  explained  as  lu  ts'e  and  defined  as  a  bird 
"with  a  beak  curved  like  a  hook  and  subsisting  on  fish"  It  fii  ft  jm 

Li  Shi-chen  ^  ££  %,  in  his  Pen  ts'ao  kang  mu  ^  ^  ^  @ ,  cites 
the  Yun  shu  H  #  (cf.  Watters,  Essays  on  the  Chinese  Language, 
p.  40)  to  the  effect  that  both  lu  iM.  and  tse  ££  mean  "black,"  and  that 
these  names  are  conferred  upon  the  bird  with  reference  to  its  deep- 
black  color  (cf.  I&  tse,  "black").  This  explanation  goes  back  to  the 
Ts'ang  kie  p'ien  3ir  rI  Jt,  on  which  see  Watters,  Essays,  p.  26,  and 
Pelliot,  Le  Chou  King,  Mem.  concernant  VAsie  Orientate,  II,  1916, 
p.  137).  According  to  the  Pen  ts'ao,  the  word  i  (in  some  editions 
written  S8)  is  the  cry  or  call  of  the  bird  itself  (J8  ^  3£  $  S  P£  -&), 
and  was  hence  adopted  as  the  name  for  the  bird. 

S.  Wells  Williams  (Chinese  Repository,  VII,  1839,  p.  54)  asserts 
that  the  etymology  of  lu  ts'e  is  "the  black  [bird]  in  the  reeds."  Evi- 
dently he  thought  in  this  connection  of  }§.  lu  ("a  kind  of  reed"),  but 
I  am  not  aware  of  the  fact  that  this  derivation  is  given  by  any 
Chinese  author.  The  supposition  given  above  seems  quite  plausible, 
and  the  bird's  name  would  simply  mean  "the  black  one." 

In  Lo-lo-p'o,  one  of  the  Lo-lo  dialects,  the  cormorant,  according 
to  Li^tard,  is  called  vi-dzo-mo.  The  element  dzo  obviously  cor- 
responds to  Chinese  M,  anciently  dzi  (Shanghai  ze). 

The  Yi  ts'ie  king  yin  i  —  4jJJ  M  It  Ji  (chap.  19,  p.  lb),  compiled 
by  Hiian  Ying  j£  M  toward  the  middle  of  the  seventh  century,  defines 
the  cormorant  after  the  Tse  lin  ^  ^  as  "resembling  the  i  &|  (Giles 
No.  5490,  'the  fish-hawk'),  but  being  black,  an  aquatic  bird  with 
a  beak  curved  like  a  hook  and  subsisting  on  fish,  also  called  shwi  ya 
7K  H  ('water  crow')."  The  latter  term  corresponds  in  meaning  to 
our  cormorant,  derived  from  Med.  Lat.  corvus  marinus  ("sea-crow." 
Cf.  German  wasserrabe,  seerabe;  Dutch  waterraaf). 

The  Mong  Hang  luW^^k,  written  by  Wu  Tse-mu  ^g  t 
(chap.  18,  p.  15)  of  the  Sung  in  a.d.  1274,  classes  the  cormorant 
among  the  birds  of  Hang-chou  under  the  name  lu-ho  flfe  H,  adding 
that  it  is  also  called  lu-ts'e. 

A  synonym  for  the  cormorant  given  in  the  Pen  ts'ao  kang  mu 
and  in  several  gazetteers  of  Fu-kien  Province  (e.g.  Hing-hua  fu  chi 


Chinese  Terminology  209 

J&  Vt  /fr  *£,  chap.  14,  p.  9)  is  3§  7K  #  S7m  sta"  /ma,  i.e.  "water 
flower  of  Shu"  (Se-ch'wan).  In  the  Ch'ang-t'ing  hien  chi  S  TV  SI  1& 
(chap.  30,  p.  58)  this  name  is  explained  as  referring  to  the  cormorant's 
dung,  which  is  used  as  medicine;  it  is  ground  to  a  powder  with  water, 
and  when  administered  to  a  man,  has  the  effect  on  him  that  he  will 
give  up  wine. 

^t  M  Is'e  lao,  in  the  Gazetteer  of  the  District  of  Ch'ang-t'ing 
(chap.  30,  p.  58). 

W  ls&  ts'ing  lu,  51  ik  kiao  lu,  in  Palladius'  Chinese-Russian 
Dictionary  (also  Giles,  No.  1316). 

Designations  of  the  bird  in  the  colloquial  language  are: 

M  @  #1  wu  t'ou  wang,  "black-headed  net"  (Ts'ing  i  lu,  tenth 
century,  see  below,  p.  221). 

7K  ^  H  shwi  lao  ya,  "aquatic  old  duck"  (Pen  ts'ao  yen  i, 
A.D.  1116). 

tK  45  31  shwi  lao  ya,  "aquatic  old  crow."  Especially  used  in 

tUp  ya,  "fish  crow." 

I-J  &  &tf  kou  yii  lang,  "fish-catching  gentleman."  Giles  (Glossary 
of  Reference,  p.  96)  remarks  that  this  name  is  borrowed  from  that 
of  the  kingfisher. 

t&  &  &■  mo  yii  kung,  "Mr.  Fish-diver." 

M  $c  lu  tsei,  "cormorant,  the  robber"  (in  Tan-t'u  hien  chi  fl* 
it  *$  in,*). 

^  J&  wu  kwei,  "black  devil."  This  local  Se-ch'wan  term  is 
discussed  in  detail  below  (p.  214).  While  in  the  famous  passage  of 
Tu  Fu  this  term  in  all  probability  does  not  denote  the  cormorant, 
it  has  been  made  to  denote  the  bird  from  the  Sung  period  onward. 
This  term  reminds  us  of  Milton's  (Paradise  Lost,  IV,  196)  comparison 
of  Satan  with  a  cormorant  ("and  on  the  tree  of  life,  ...  sat  like  a 
cormorant").  A.  Newton  (Enc.  Brit.,  VII,  p.  162)  thinks  that  this 
similitude  is  prompted  by  the  bird's  habit  of  sitting  on  an  elevated 
perch,  often  with  extended  wings,  and  in  this  attitude  remaining 
motionless  for  a  considerable  time  as  though  hanging  itself  out  to  dry. 

&  8$  yii  ying,  "fish,"  or  rather,  "fishing  falcon"  (in  northern 
China,  particularly  Shan-tung  and  Chi-li).  This  term  properly 
denotes  the  fishhawk  or  osprey,  and  at  Peking  and  Tientsin  is 
especially  applied  to  the  common  tern  (0.  F.  von  Mollendorff, 
Vertebrata,  pp.  77,  102). 

It  is  an  interesting  fact  that  the  cormorant  appears  in  several 
place-names.    According  to  the  Geography  of  the  Ming  (Ta  Ming  i 

210  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

t'ung  chi),  as  quoted  in  Pzen  tse  lei  pten  (chap.  210,  p.  5),  there  is  a 
Cormorant  Cliff  (Lu-ts'e  Yen  J&,  a  hundred  li  west  of  King-ning 
hien  ^c  ^  %&  in  the  prefecture  of  Ch'u-chou  M  W  Jfr,  Che-kiang;  there 
is  a  spring  there  a  drink  from  which  would  cure  disease;  subsequently 
it  was  struck  by  a  bolt  of  lightning  and  formed  a  pool;  there  were 
fishermen  who  dared  not  cast  their  nets  in  it.  A  Cormorant  Lake 
(Lu-ts'e  Hu  M)  is  located  forty  li  southwest  of  Hai-yen  hien  #1  m  H 
in  the  prefecture  of  Kia-hing  H  M,  Che-kiang,  and  measures  over 
forty  li  in  circumference.  A  Cormorant  Embankment  (Lu-ts'e  Pei 
$£)  existed  on  the  River  Yuan  M  tK  in  the  district  Nei-hwang 
ft  M,  which  formerly  belonged  to  Ta-ming  fu  ^C  £  Mf,  Chi-li 
(now  to  Chang- te  f u  ^  ^  fft,  Ho-nan),  five  li  southwest  from  the 
old  city  of  Nei-hwang,  measuring  eighty  li  in  circumference;  it  was 
an  advantageous  place  for  fishing,  protected  by  the  natives.  A 
Cormorant  Islet  (Lu-ts'e  Chou  $H)  is  located  in  the  district  Shang- 
kao  Jb  i§i  in  the  prefecture  Jui-chou  3n§  *W  fft,  Kiang-si,  east  of  the 
Lo-han  Rock  H  M  J5. 

The  earliest  European  illustration  of  a  Chinese  cormorant  and 
fishing-boat  is  contained  in  Johan  Nieuhoff's  Dutch  Embassy  (1669, 
p.  134),  and  is  titled  "the  bird  Louwa."  As  this  is  Dutch  spelling, 
the  diphthong  ou  is  the  equivalent  of  au.  The  author  does  not  give 
any  European  name.  A.  A.  Fauvel  (La  Province  chinoise  du  Chan- 
toung,  p.  293,  Bruxelles,  1892)  identifies  this  louwa  with  lao-wa 
which  he  says  is  still  current  in  China.  I  have  never  heard  this  word, 
and  have  in  vain  looked  for  it  in  dictionaries.  I  imagine  that  it 
should  be  written  ^  H  lao  wa,  wa  being  a  name  for  the  heron  with 
which  the  cormorant  is  sometimes  confounded.  E.  H.  Parker  (Up 
the  Yangtse,  p.  270,  Shanghai,  1899)  states  that  he  heard  the  cor- 
morant call  lao  wa  in  the  upper  Yangtse  region.  In  Mesny's  Chinese 
Miscellany  (IV,  1905,  p.  228)  the  cormorant  is  called  shwi-lao-wa. 

In  Yen-chou,  Che-kiang,  according  to  an  observation  of  E.  H. 
Parker  (J.  China  Br.  R.  A.  S.,  XIX,  1885,  p.  40),  the  heron  (lu-se 
It  M)  is  called  the  cormorant,  and  the  cormorant  (gang  ngo  /f£f  $!) 
the  heron.  I  note  from  R.  S.  Maclay's  Dictionary  in  the  Foochow 
Dialect  (p.  505,  Foochow,  1870)  that  in  Fu-chou  colloquial  the  cor- 
morant is  lo  li  or  lo  si,  lo  being  M  lu  ("heron")- 


u  (a  native  Japanese  word)  It,  Phalacrocorax  carbo.  This 
character,  read  t'i  in  Chinese,  refers  in  China  to  the  pelican.  It  is 
not  exactly  clear  why  this  character  was  adopted  in  Japan  for  the 
designation  of  the  cormorant,  but  it  is  intelligible  since  pelican  and 
cormorant  are  closely  allied  birds,  both  belonging  to  the  Palmipedes. 
R.  Hemeling,  in  his  English-Chinese  Dictionary  (1916),  assigns  to 
t'i  the  meaning  "cormorant."  I  do  not  know  whether  or  in  how  far 
this  is  correct. 

shimatsu  $h  W  (Manyoshu),  £&  M,  P.  capillatus. 

umi-u,  P.  capillatus. 

hime-u  #6  $$,  P.  pelagicus. 

chishima-u  f"  IS  $$,  P.  bicristatus. 

kawatsu,  P.  carbo  hanedae  Kuroda,  a  smaller  species  caught 
mainly  on  the  coast  of  Tokyo  Bay  and  used  for  fishing  in  the  streams 
near  Tokyo. 

u-bune  $1  $&,  a  boat  used  in  fishing  with  cormorants. 

u-kai  H  M,  cormorant  fisher. 

u-tsukai  $1  jS  fnj,  do. 

u-nawa  $1  flk,  a  line  or  straw  rope  used  in  cormorant  fishing. 

eboshi  ,%  tl  iF",  head-dress  of  the  cormorant-trainer. 

u-jo,  chief  cormorant-trainer. 



The  earliest  mention  of  the  use  of  trained  cormorants  for  fishing 
occurs  in  the  Chinese  Annals  of  the  Sui  Dynasty  (A.D.  590-617), 
but  with  reference  to  Japan. 

In  the  Sui  shu  (chap.  81,  p.  7)  it  is  on  record  that  "in  Japan  they 
suspend  small  rings  from  the  necks  of  cormorants,  and  have  them 
dive  into  the  water  to  catch  fish,  and  that  they  can  catch  over  a 
hundred  a  day"  («  H  &  4>  £  &  *  M  «  *  A  *  ft  ft  0  Jft 

wte  §f). 

This  brief  information  presumably  given  by  the  Japanese  envoy 
who  visited  the  Chinese  court  in  A.D.  607  (cf.  0.  Nachod,  Geschichte 
von  Japan,  I,  pp.  207,  270)  conveys  the  impression  that  this  method 
of  fishing  was  a  novel  affair  to  the  Chinese  chronicler.  It  is  curious 
that  neither  at  the  time  of  the  Sui  nor  under  the  T'ang  do  we  have 
a  single  account  relating  to  this  matter,  so  far  as  China  is  concerned. 
The  only  historical  text  cited  in  the  cyclopaedia  T'ai  p'ing  yii  Ian 
^¥^1  (chap.  925,  pp.  8b-9a),  published  by  Li  Fang  3=  W  in 
A.D.  983,  is  the  above  passage  of  the  Sui  shu,  while  three  other  texts 
quoted  there  have  merely  reference  to  superstitions  or  medical 
prescriptions  in  reference  to  the  bird,  but  not  a  word  is  said  about 
its  being  trained  in  China.  The  same  holds  good  for  the  T'u  shu  tsi 
ch'eng,  where  the  historical  notices  of  the  bird  #£  ^  open  with  the 
text  of  the  Sui  Annals,  while  the  Ts'ing  i  lu  ?pf  H  it  of  the  tenth 
century  is  given  as  the  first  record  of  trained  cormorants  in  China. 

The  information  given  in  the  Sui  shu  is  amply  confirmed  by 
Japanese  sources.  The  cormorant  (u  H)  was  utilized  for  fishing  in 
ancient  Japan.  In  the  Kojiki  l£f  ^  IS,  completed  in  A.D.  712,  the 
Emperor  Jimmu  #  5£  ^  M:  addresses  in  a  poem  "the  keepers  of 
cormorants,  the  birds  of  the  island"  (translation  of  B.  H.  Chamberlain, 
p.  144).  The  same  poem,  which  in  Chamberlain's  opinion  probably 
dates  from  a  far  earlier  age,  is  found  in  the  Nihongi  H  ^  IS  of 
A.D.  720  (translation  of  W.  G.  Aston,  I,  p.  126).  In  the  same  work 
we  meet  the  son  of  Nihe-motsu  f*l  ^L  $8,  who  was  the  first  ancestor 
of  the  cormorant-keepers  (u-kahi  or  u-kai)  of  Ata  (ibid.,  p.  119) 
W  >fc  ^t  ill  pP  fo  M.  Again,  an  allusion  to  cormorants  "diving  into 
the  water  to  catch  fish"  is  made  in  the  same  chronicle  under  the 
year  a.d.  459  (ibid.,  p.  341). 

Cormorants  must  have  been  abundant  and  popular  in  ancient 
Japan,  and  also  played  a  role  in  mythology  (K.  Florenz,  Quellen 


Historical  Data  213 

der  Shinto  Religion,  p.  68).  The  father  of  the  Emperor  Jimmu 
bore  the  name  Ugayafuki-aezu-no-Mikoto  flft  M  ^  M  ^  &  # 
("Cormorant-rush-thatch  unfinished." — Aston,  Nihongi,  I,  pp.  95, 
98).  The  lying-in  hut  (ubuya  J&  M)  was  thatched  with  cormorant 
feathers.  In  the  record  of  a  census  made  in  a.d.  702  appears  the 
name  U-kai-be  ("clan  of  cormorant-keepers")  no  Mezurame  H  ^  p5 
@  £fl  f&  H  of  the  province  of  Mino.  According  to  the  Record  of 
the  Customs  of  the  Province  of  Mino  H  i&  ffl  $f  H  JH  i  l£,  there 
were  during  the  period  Engi  5S  H  (a.d.  901-922)  seven  houses  of 
cormorant  fishermen  on  the  Nagara  River  ik  $L  Jl|  in  Mino;  these 
prepared  special  dried  ayu  hk  (sweet-fish)  for  the  use  of  the  emperor 
and  annually  presented  the  fishes  to  the  imperial  household.  The 
ayu  is  a  salmonid  about  a  foot  in  length  and  found  only  in  the  clear 
upland  and  mountain  streams  of  central  Japan.  The  Manyoshu 
M  MM  (chap.  19)  contains  a  poem  #f  M  «&£  by  Otomo  no  Yakamochi, 
written  in  the  province  of  Etchu. 

Among  the  Hundred  Laws  of  Ieyasu  there  is  one  (No.  24)  in 
which  it  is  said,  "Formerly  there  were  people  who  asserted  that  the 
hunt  with  cormorants  and  falcons  should  be  abolished,  and  yet  this 
is  not  an  idle  pleasure  or  a  useless  destruction  of  life.  It  is  an  old 
custom  with  the  princes  of  China  and  Japan  that  they  offer  their 
hunting  spoils  to  the  emperor,"  etc.  (T.  Kempermann,  Mitteilungen 
der  deutschen  Ges.  Ostasiens,  I,  p.  II). 

Two  Japanese  scholars,  Ikenoya  (1917)  and  Kuroda  (1926),  have 
written  treatises  on  the  history  of  cormorant  fishing  in  Japan,  and 
excerpts  from  their  data  are  given  in  E.  W.  Gudger's  article  "Fishing 
with  the  Cormorant  in  Japan"  (see  Bibliography  at  end). 

Gudger  (II  p.  9)  states,  "So  far  as  I  have  searched,  unlike 
similar  works  for  China,  none  of  the  early  European  voyagers  to 
Japan,  not  even  Kaempfer,  figures  or  even  refers  to  cormorant 
fishing  in  Japan."  I  have  found,  however,  the  following  interesting 
note  in  the  Diary  of  Richard  Cocks  (ed.  of  Hakluyt  Society,  I, 
p.  285)  referring  to  the  year  1617: 

"Soyemon  Dono  made  a  fishing  over  against  English  howse  with 
cormorants  made  fast  to  long  cordes  behind  their  winges,  and  bridles 
from  thence  before  their  neckes  to  keepe  the  fish  from  entring  their 
bodies,  so  that  when  they  took  it  they  could  take  yt  out  of  their 
throates  again."  This  is  exactly  the  method  still  followed  in  Japan 
at  the  present  time. 

While  there  is  good  evidence  for  cormorant  fishing  in  ancient 
Japan  extending  from  the  fifth  and  sixth  to  the  eighth  century,  con- 

214  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

temporaneous  evidence  for  China  is  entirely  lacking.  To  be  sure, 
ancient  references  to  the  cormorant  in  dictionaries,  poetry,  and  the 
Pen  ts'ao  literature  are  plentiful  (see  below,  pp.  221  and  224),  but 
these  passages  are  reticent  as  to  the  training  of  the  bird.  The  first 
and  earliest  document  that  contains  a  notice  of  trained  cormorants 
used  by  man  is  the  Ts'ing  i  lu,  a  work  of  the  tenth  century  (below, 
p.  221).  It  is  supposed  that  a  passage  in  a  poem  of  Tu  Fu  alludes 
to  domesticated  cormorants;  unfortunately,  however,  the  bird  does 
not  appear  there  under  its  real  name,  but  the  phrase  "black  devil" 
is  interpreted  as  such.  This  passage  has  been  the  subject  of  a  lively 
controversy  among  Chinese  authors,  and  I  shall  briefly  review  their 
opinions.  At  the  same  time  we  have  occasion  to  touch  upon  several 
texts  of  the  Sung  period  which  refer  to  cormorant  fishing. 

In  a  poem  of  Tu  Fu  tt  ll  (a.d.  712-770)  the  following  verse 

He  ||c  3c  >%  Mt 

This  means  literally: 

"All  families  (or:  in  the  houses  they)  raise  the  black  devil 
And  at  every  meal  feed  on  the  yellow  fish." 

S.  Wells  Williams  (Chinese  Repository,  VII,  p.  542)  translates, 
"Every  family  trains  the  black  devil,  which,  often  diving,  seizes  the 
yellow  fish."  The  text,  however,  contains  nothing  about  "diving" 
or  "seizing."  If  wu  kwei  really  be  the  cormorant,  it  may  be  admitted 
that  the  cormorant  may  occasionally  feed  on  yellow  fish;  but  if  wu 
kwei,  as  interpreted  by  other  scholars,  is  something  quite  different, 
this  conception  of  the  passage  is  absurd.  It  is  quite  clear  that  kia 
kia  is  the  subject  of  the  second  clause  and  that  the  families  eat  the 
yellow  fish.  The  latter  is  explained  in  the  commentary  to  the  Er  ya 
as  the  name  given  east  of  the  river  VL  M  (i.e.  in  the  lower  Yangtse 
region)  to  the  sturgeon,  chan  f&L,  which  is  from  twenty  to  thirty  feet 
long  (Pien  tse  lei  pien,  chap.  135,  p.  17b,  where  also  the  above  passage 
from  Tu  Fu  is  quoted,  the  title  of  the  poem  being  given  as  lUi  f£  W 
W*  ft  W.  Cf.  also  Su  po  wu  chi  H  W  ^  1&,  chap.  2,  p.  6,  ed.  of  Pai 
hai).  It  is  obvious  that  a  cormorant  can  not  catch  a  fish  of  the 
dimensions  and  weight  of  a  sturgeon.  The  weight  of  a  full-grown 
bird  is  about  seven  pounds,  and  a  one-and-a-half  pound  fish  is  about 
the  maximum  weight  a  bird  can  carry.  Long  after  I  wrote  this,  I 
found  in  the  Tung  ya  *§  S  (chap.  45,  p.  21b)  that  Ma  Yung-k'ing 
^  TJt  M,  who  lived  in  the  first  part  of  the  twelfth  century,  has  made 
the  same  criticism  ("Can  a  cormorant  catch  a  yellow  fish?"  And 
Fang  I-chi  ^  Jji  Hf,  author  of  the  Tung  ya,  comments,  "Why  is  it 

Historical  Data  215 

necessary  that  he  catches  yellow  fish?  Why  should  it  not  be  a  yellow- 
cheeked  fish  f$  £1  &  hwang  kia  yii  [Mollendorff,  Vertebrata, 
p.  107]?") .  The  Pien  tse  lei  pien  gives  a  quotation  from  another  poem 
of  Tu  Fu,  entitled  "The  Yellow  Fish"  (cf.  also  Neng  kai  chai  man  lu, 
chap.  6,  p.  23)  and  cites  the  Yu  yang  tsa  tsu  as  saying  that  in  Shu 
(Se-ch'wan),  whenever  a  yellow  fish  is  killed,  it  will  invariably  rain. 

The  phrase  "black  devil"  (wu  kwei)  has  aroused  much  comment 
from  authors  of  the  Sung  period;  and,  it  will  be  seen,  is  credited  with 
several  different  meanings.  The  general  situation  is  well  summed 
up  by  Wang  Mou. 

Wang  Mou  3E  8£,  in  his  Ye  ko  ts'ung  shu  5?  ^  M  IF  (chap.  26, 
pp.  5b-6,  ed.  of  Pai  hai),  the  preface  of  which  is  dated  a.d.  1202, 
has  the  following  discourse  on  the  subject  under  the  heading  Wu  kwei 
("Black  Devil"): 

"As  to  the  line  of  old  Tu  'in  the  houses  they  raise  the  black  devil,' 
there  are  several  explanations.  The  Lan  chen  tse  #1  ^  "f  [by  Ma 
Yung-k'ing  if  iK  J$J :  Wylie,  Notes,  p.  164]  interprets  wu  kwei  as 
'pig.'  Ts'ai  Kwan-fu  H  %  ^  [author  of  Ts'ai  shi  shi  hwa  H  ft  If  W, 
biography  in  Sung  shi,  chap.  356]  explains  it  as  'the  seven  gods  of 
the  dark  wilderness'  ,%  Sf  Ac  #.  The  Leng  chai  ye  hwa  ?p  $F  ^  §8 
[by  Hui  Hung  M  $£,  end  of  eleventh  century:  Wylie,  Notes,  p.  164] 
regards  it  as  'the  devils  of  the  Black  Man,'  Wu  Man  kwei  ,%  S$  J&. 
Shen  Ts'un-chung  [i.e.  Shen  Kwa  i!t  t£,  a.d.  1029-93],  in  his  Mong 
k'i  pi  Van  1£  ^  K£  l&,  the  Siang  su  tsa  ki  ffl&  $  $t  HE,,  the  Yii  yin 
ts'ung  hwa  $&  H  H  W  [by  Hu  Tse  #J  \f  of  the  Sung],  the  Lu,  nung 
shi  $k  H  f»i|j,  and  the  P'i  ya  *$  %fe  interpret  it  as  the  cormorant 
{lu-ts'e).  These  four  explanations  differ  widely.  However,  solely 
the  explanation  of  the  Leng  chai  is  correct.  Referring  to  the  chapter 
'Record  of  the  Southern  Man'  in  the  T'ang  Annals  M  ♦  $J  §£  ft, 
we  read  that  'they  commonly  esteem  shamans  and  devils  and  in 
the  great  tribes  they  have  Great  Devil  Chiefs  jc  J&  i,  while  in  the 
families  they  establish  a  Small  Devil  Chief  /J>  $L  ± ;  the  White  Man 
(Pai  Man)  form  a  single  clan,  the  Black  Man  (Wu  Man)  five  clans; 
the  latter  are  so  called,  because  the  dresses  of  their  women  are  made 
of  black  silk,  while  those  of  the  White  Man  are  made  of  white  silk.' 
Further,  in  examining  the  comment  of  the  Leng  chai,  Liu  Yii-si 
fij  &  ^  (a.d.  772-842),  in  his  poem  Nan-chung  l£  +,  says,  'They 
sacrifice  in  excess  to  numerous  dark  devils  W  A,  for  white-haired 
men  are  scarce  among  the  inhabitants.'  There  is  another  saying 
with  reference  to  the  so-called  dark  devils:  The  cause  of  the  prestige 
of  the  Man  tribes  of  the  rivers  and  gorges  of  Kwang-nan  rests  on 
the  fact  that  they  have  such  names  as  dark  devils  and  black  devils. 

216  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

"In  the  lines  of  Tu  the  'yellow  fish'  is  antithetical  to  the  'black 
devil/  from  which  it  follows  that  the  devils  of  the  Black  Man  are 
meant.  Let  us  further  examine  a  poem  of  Yuan  Wei-chi  %  Wi  £. 
[i.e.  Yuan  Chen  %  SI,  A.D.  779-831],  who  says,  'In  their  rustic  taste 
they  prize  frogs  or  clams;  in  their  domestic  worship,  all  serve  the 
crow  or  raven'  ($G  Bfc  ±  ^r  !&  |£  P  28  ^  Jb ) .  Yuan  Chen  further  says, 
'In  case  of  disease  they  carry  a  raven  around  in  a  procession,  praising 
it  as  a  demon;  the  sorcerers  predict  (the  outcome  of  the  disease) 
by  means  of  a  tile  which  with  them  takes  the  place  of  a  tortoise 
(?S  I  i  i  I  ^  ^  %  ft  !£).'  According  to  the  commentary, 
the  people  of  the  south,  when  infected  by  a  disease,  carry  a  black 
devil  around  in  a  procession.  These  explanations  are  similar  to,  but 
not  identical  with  that  given  above.  As  regards  the  Record  of  the 
Southern  Man  (in  the  T'ang  Annals),  the  word  wu  M  has  the 
meaning  'black,'  but  in  the  poem  of  Yuan  Chen,  as  the  word  ko  fcn 
is  antithetical  to  wu  &,  it  must  have  the  meaning  'raven'." 

This  discourse  is  instructive  in  many  respects.  We  note  above 
all  what  difficulties  Sung  authors  had  in  correctly  understanding 
and  interpreting  a  passage  in  a  T'ang  poem  and  how  widely  divergent 
their  opinions  were.  I  do  not  see  that  we  poor  epigones  can  do  much 
better.  There  is  no  doubt  that  wu  kwei,  apparently  restricted  to 
Se-ch'wan,  had  several  different  meanings  during  the  Sung  period. 
I  shall  give  additional  information  from  the  sources  cited  by  Wang 
Mou  and  likewise  from  others. 

Wu  kwei,  as  Ma  Yung-k'ing  informs  us,  was  applied  to  pigs. 
This  is  confirmed  by  the  Man  sou  shi  hwa  tfl  %  W  W  (cited  in  Pien 
tse  lei  pien,  chap.  207,  p.  3b) :  "The  people  of  Se-ch'wan  are  fond  of 
pork,  and  all  families  there  are  engaged  in  the  rearing  of  swine. 
Whenever  they  call  their  pigs,  they  emit  the  sound  wu  kwei  M  %L. 
Hence  they  call  a  pig  wu  kwei  ('black  devil')." 

Hia-hou  Tsie  JE  &  fp  (in  the  T'ung  ya,  chap.  45,  p.  21b,  he  is 
called  JC  ;fc  ^),  a  scholar  living  in  the  gorges  of  Se-ch'wan  ift^  41  dt  A, 
is  quoted  as  saying,  "The  black  devil  is  a  pig.  Many  families  in- 
habiting the  gorges  serve  the  devils  and  raise  a  particular  pig,  not, 
however,  to  be  sacrificed  to  the  devils,  as  this  would  be  useless, 
but  they  put  this  pig  among  the  common  herd,  and  from  time  to 
time  call  the  devils  and  the  pig,  keeping  them  apart,  and  this  is  the 
proper  thing  to  do"  (Ning-hua  hien  chi,  ^  It  H  ^,  chap.  2,  p.  128). 
In  the  T'ung  ya,  however,  the  same  scholar  is  quoted  as  saying, 
"The  black  devil  is  a  pig.  The  families  raise  a  particular  pig  for  the 
purpose  of  sacrificing  it  to  the  devils."  If  this  be  correct,  the  designa- 
tion wu  kwei  for  the  sacrificial  pig  may  have  arisen  from  the  fact 

Historical  Data  217 

that  it  was  intended  as  a  sacrifice  to  the  wu  kwei.  Yang  Shen  $1  tK 
(1488-1559)  writes  that  the  people  in  the  gorges  raise  young  chicks 
which,  provided  with  copper  or  tin  rings,  are  offered  to  the  spirits, 
and  these  are  called  wu  kwei  (T'ung  ya,  chap.  45,  p.  21b). 

Wu  kwei  was  also  applied  to  the  raven.  Corvus  torquatus  is  still 
designated  "devil  bird"  fe  By  (Mollendorff,  Vertebrata,  pp.  88,  89). 

Lo  Yuan  H  JPH,  author  of  the  Er  ya  i  (twelfth  century),  writes, 
"In  the  opinion  of  some  people,  the  inhabitants  of  the  defiles  of  Se- 
en'wan  term  the  cormorant  wu  kwei,  but  these  folks,  on  the  other 
hand,  serve  the  raven  and  call  it  devil;  hence  wu  kwei  is  not  the 
cormorant"  (&  2  tt  A  fH  &  Jil  Jfc  B  ft  A  7b  m  Mi  ®  %  #  * 
fyj  -&).    Regarding  another  explanation  as  "raven"  see  below,  p.  219. 

On  the  other  hand,  it  cannot  be  doubted  that  wu  kwei  began  under 
the  Sung  to  denote  the  cormorant,  and  Wang  Mou  cites  four  author- 
ities to  this  effect.  This,  of  course,  does  not  mean  that  the  cormorant 
can  be  interpreted  into  the  passage  of  Tu  Fu.  Wang  Mou,  however, 
errs  in  listing  Shen  Kwa  among  the  pro-cormorantists;  on  the  con- 
trary, as  will  be  seen  presently,  Shen  Kwa,  is  averse  to  this  explana- 
tion. Wang  Mou's  misunderstanding  is  copied  from  the  Leng  chai 
ye  hwa  (chap.  4,  p.  7b,  ed.  of  Pai  hai),  which  he  quotes,  and  this  error 
was  probably  caused  by  the  fact  that  Shen  Kwa  cites  the  K'wei 
chou  t'u  king  which  seems  to  be  the  first  Sung  work  to  explain  wu 
kwei  as  cormorant  and  the  text  of  which  is  given  alike  in  the  P'i  ya 
and  the  Mong  k'i  pi  t'an  written  between  a.d.  1086  and  1093. 

Shen  Kwa,  in  his  Mong  k'i  pi  t'an  (chap.  16,  p.  1,  ed.  of  Pai  hai) 
writes  as  follows:  "The  scholar  Liu  K'o  dt  A.  £>J  &  extensively 
inspected  strange  writings.  One  day  he  lighted  on  a  poem  of  Tu  Fu 
[as  quoted  above] .  The  general  explanation  of  this  passage  now  gi  ven 
is  that  all  say  that  in  the  gorges  of  K'wei-chou  there  are  up  to  the 
present  time  'devil  families'  (kwei  hu  $L  J*)f  and  these  are  simply 
savages  75  M  A  & ;  their  chieftain  is  called  a  devil's  chief  (kwei  chu 
%  i).  However,  I  have  never  heard  of  a  phrase  like  wu  kwei 
ife  ?fc  $l\  ft  M  %L  £.  13fc.  Moreover,  as  regards  the  devil  families,  these 
are  the  savages  who  are  so  called,  but  not  something  raised  by  man 
(as  the  cormorant  is). 

"The  K'wei-chou  t'u  king  H  W  M  H5  says  that  'the  inhabitants 
of  the  gorges  of  Se-ch'wan  call  the  cormorant  "black  devil"  (wu  kwei) 
and  that  the  people  of  Shu  £S  A  dwelling  along  the  water-courses 
raise  this  bird  and  fasten  a  cord  to  its  neck  whenever  they  send  it 
into  the  water  to  dive  for  fish;  when  the  cormorant  has  caught  a 
fish,  they  pull  him  out  of  the  water  by  means  of  this  cord.'  In  this 
manner  it  is  still  practised  up  to  this  time,  and  I  can  testify  to  the 

218  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

truth  of  it,  for  I  was  in  Se-ch'wan  myself  and  saw  people  there  raise 
cormorants  (lu-ts'e)  and  employ  them  for  the  purpose  of  catching 
fish.  Only  I  do  not  know  that  the  people  of  Se-ch'wan  call  the 
cormorant  black  devil  «M  ^  £n  II  ±  M  k  %)." 

Here  we  have  good  and  trustworthy  testimony  for  domesticated 
cormorants  in  Se-ch'wan  during  the  eleventh  century.  As  to  the 
term  wu  kwei,  one  man's  word  is  as  good  as  another's.  Shen  Kwa 
asserts  merely  that  he  did  not  hear  the  term  used  in  Se-ch'wan  for 
the  cormorant,  while  others  affirm  they  did.  There  is  no  reason 
to  doubt  that  in  the  eleventh  century  wu  kwei  was  a  popular  designa- 
tion of  the  cormorant  locally  in  certain  parts  of  Se-ch'wan.  We 
have  no  evidence,  however,  that  this  term  was  so  used  three  centuries 
earlier  during  the  lifetime  of  Tu  Fu.  No  text  of  the  T'ang  period 
informs  us  that  wu  kwei  then  had  the  significance  "cormorant." 
This  is  not  a  T'ang  tradition,  but  a  Sung  tradition,  and  what  hap- 
pened was  that  Sung  scholars  who  heard  of  that  local  usage  inter- 
preted this  meaning  back  into  the  line  of  Tu  Fu. 

Fan  Chen  ?a  tft,  author  of  the  Tung  chai  ki  shi  M  3§F  16  ^,  who 
lived  in  the  latter  part  of  the  eleventh  century,  deserves  special 
consideration  as  he  was  a  native  of  Hwa-yang  #  %  in  Se-ch'wan 
and  must  have  been  well  informed  on  the  affairs  of  his  country. 
This  work  is  reprinted  in  the  Shou  shan  ko  ts'ung  shu,  vol.  84,  where 
his  notice  of  cormorants  is  not  given;  it  is  cited,  however,  alike  in  the 
Tsing  k'ang  siang  su  tsa  ki  to  be  noted  presently  and  in  the  Se-ch'wan 
t'ung  chi  JZ9  JI|  ?i.  1&  (chap.  74,  p.  21),  as  follows: 

"The  fishermen  of  Shu  raise  cormorants  to  the  number  of  ten 
and  daily  catch  fish  to  the  weight  of  ten  catties.  They  tie  a  cord 
around  the  neck  of  the  bird,  so  that  a  small  fish  may  just  pass  through 
his  throat,  while  he  cannot  swallow  a  big  fish.  From  time  to  time 
the  fishermen  take  the  birds  out  of  the  water  and  let  them  dive  into 
the  water  again.  The  birds  are  very  tame,  and  will  attend  to  every- 
thing as  if  they  had  a  human  heart.  Whether  they  have  caught  a 
fish  or  not,  they  return  to  the  boat,  and  those  familiar  with  the 
flock  will  feed  them  and  then  cause  them  to  return  to  their  work. 
This  method  is  comparable  to  falconry,  but  saves  the  trouble  of 
riding  on  horseback  and  running.  The  profit  obtained  from  this 
business  is  very  large." 

The  Siang  su  tsa  ki  cited  by  Wang  Mou  is  called  with  its  complete 
title  Tsing  k'ang  siang  su  tsa  ki  3ff  J|§  #B  ^  $i  f£.  This  work,  as 
implied  by  the  title,  was  written  in  the  Tsing-k'ang  period  (a.d. 
1126-27),  and  is  from  the  hand  of  Hwang  Ch'ao-ying  W  $8  ^  of  the 
Sung  (cf.  Wylie,  Notes,  p.  159:  early  twelfth  century).   It  is  reprinted 

Historical  Data  219 

in  the  Shou  shan  ko  ts'ung  shu,  vol.  69,  and  the  text  in  question, 
entitled  Wu  kwei,  is  in  chap.  5,  pp.  2b-3a  (the  T'ang  Sung  ts'ung  shu 
contains  only  a  greatly  abridged  form  of  this  work  of  only  thirteen 
pages,  which  does  not  contain  this  text).  The  author  refers  to  the 
Mong  k'i  pi  fan,  saying  that  solely  Liu  K'o  29  ^  has  explained  the 
meaning  of  wu  kwei  correctly;  then  he  cites  the  Tung  chai  ki  shi, 
translated  above,  noting  that  its  author,  Fan,  does  not  know  either 
that  the  cormorant  should  be  intended  by  the  "black  devil"  of  Tu  Fu. 
Finally  he  cites  the  cormorant  account  of  the  Sui  shu;  and,  I  believe, 
he  is  the  only  Sung  author  who  has  done  so  and  seen  the  identity  of 
cormorant  fishing  in  Japan  and  China.  Judging  from  this  text, 
Wang  Mou  is  wrong  in  classifying  Hwang  Ch'ao-ying  among  writers 
who  interpret  Tu  Fu's  wu  kwei  as  the  cormorant;  but  in  the  Se- 
ch'wan  t'ung  chi  P3  JM  ifi  iS  (chap.  74,  p.  21)  Hwang  is  quoted  thus: 
"The  people  in  the  gorges  (of  Se-ch'wan)  call  the  cormorant  'black 
devil'  and  raise  it  for  the  purpose  of  catching  fish,  making  cormorant- 
fishing  their  business."  If  Hwang  Ch'ao-ying  should  really  have 
made  this  statement,  which  is  not  contained  in  the  edition  of  the 
Shou  shan  ko  ts'ung  shu,  and  which  contradicts  the  text  of  the  latter, 
Wang  Mou  would  be  right. 

Exactly  the  same  information  as  in  the  Se-ch'wan  t'ung  chi  is 
given  in  the  K'wei-choufu  chi  H  j\\  M  ]&,  1891,  chap.  14,  p.  4. 

Wu  Tseng  ^  H",  author  of  the  Neng  kai  chai  man  lu  IE  t&  3§f  $1 H 
(chap.  6,  p.  21b;  middle  of  twelfth  century),  cites  the  passage  from 
Yuan  Chen's  poem  with  the  commentary  in  the  same  manner  as 
Wang  Mou  and  decides  that  the  wu  kwei  of  Tu  Fu  has  the  same 
meaning.  He  also  attributes  to  Shen  Kwa  the  notion  that  the 
wu  kwei  of  Tu  Fu  is  the  cormorant,  adding,  "I  do  not  know  on  what 
evidence  this  is  based"  (^  ^D  X  fpT  9f  $1  &). 

The  opinion  expressed  in  the  Leng  chai  ye  hwa  (chap.  4,  p.  7,  ed. 
of  Pai  hai)  is  shared  by  Kwo  T'wan  M%-\n  his  K'wei  kit  chi  H£  $  ]& 
(Wylie,  Notes,  p.  197;  after  T'u  shu  tsi  ch'eng;  I  have  not  been  able 
to  trace  this  passage  in  the  edition  of  Pai  hai),  who  denies  that  in 
Tu  Fu's  verse  the  term  wu  kwei  refers  to  the  cormorant,  but  who 
asserts  that  it  alludes  to  the  Black  Man  devils  M  ff£  $L  and  that 
this  is  the  only  correct  explanation.  The  Leng  chai  ye  hwa  says  that 
"the  people  along  the  roads  in  the  gorges  of  Se-ch'wan  sacrifice  to 
the  devils  of  the  Black  Man."  Fang  I-chi  adds  this  comment:  "On  the 
roads  of  Pa-tung  EL  M  there  are  ravens.  People  traveling  by  boat 
must  throw  away  their  meat  and  give  it  to  the  ravens  as  provision; 
otherwise  they  will  have  no  luck.  Should  these  ravens  be  the  black 

220  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

In  the  Wen  kien  lu  K  )£  ft  by  Shao  Po-wen  BM6  i&  of  the  Sung 
dynasty  it  is  said  (Pien  tse  lei  pien,  chap.  207,  p.  3b),  "On  the  eleventh 
day  of  the  first  month  of  every  year  the  people  in  the  gorges  of 
K'wei  H  $£  £.  A  offer  sacrificial  animals  and  wine  in  the  fields  on 
behalf  of  Ts'ao  Ts'ao  J§  W ;  on  this  occasion  there  is  a  drill  of  soldiers 
with  a  great  deal  of  noise,  and  this  they  call  'raising  the  black  devil'  " 
#  J§  J&.  The  Wen  kien  lu  is  reprinted  in  the  Tsin  tai  pi  shu  and 
Hio  tsin  t'ao  yilan  to  which  I  have  not  access  at  present. 

It  is  certain  that  the  term  wu  kwei  hails  from  Se-ch'wan. 

It  cannot  be  said  that  the  Sung  writers  who  plead  for  wu  kwei 
as  the  cormorant  have  made  out  a  strong  case  in  their  favor.  They 
are  all  obsessed  with  the  sole  passage  of  Tu  Fu,  and  do  not  fall  back 
on  any  other  text.  Above  all,  they  fail  to  explain  why  wu  kwei,  a 
local  Se-ch'wan  colloquial  term,  was  transferred  to  the  cormorant. 
From  their  explanations  it  is  perfectly  clear  why  pig  and  raven  came 
to  be  called  "black  devil."  Here  the  relation  of  these  creatures  to 
devils  or  spirits  is  conspicuous;  not  so,  however,  in  the  case  of  the 
cormorant  who  lacks  any  association  with  the  supernatural  world. 
Why  this  useful  helpmate  of  man  who  contributes  so  much  to  human 
economy  should  be  dubbed  a  black  devil  is  simply  unintelligible. 

Palladius  (Chinese-Russian  Dictionary,  I,  p.  127)  explains  wu 
kwei,  "raven,  as  a  demon.  In  the  south  of  China,  in  case  of  any 
disease,  the  female  shamans  make  an  offering  and  divine  by  means  of 
the  tortoise.  Swine-mother.  Cormorant."  Giles,  in  his  Dictionary, 
gives  merely  the  meaning  "cormorant." 

I  shall  not  decide  how  the  above  verse  of  Tu  Fu  is  to  be  inter- 
preted. I  have  merely  reproduced  the  various  opinions  of  Chinese 
authors  from  which  it  follows  that  the  definition  of  wu  kwei  as 
"cormorant"  in  Tu  Fu's  verse  is  at  least  exceedingly  doubtful. 
This  study  is  not  a  contribution  to  Chinese  poetry,  but  one  to  the 
domestication  of  the  cormorant.  As  I  have  studied  the  latter  subject 
for  many  years,  I  feel  obliged  to  say  that  it  seems  to  me  most  im- 
probable that  the  cormorant  can  be  understood  in  the  passage  of 
Tu  Fu;  for  to  say  that  "the  families  raise  the  cormorant"  would  imply 
that  the  domestication  of  the  bird  was  quite  general  (at  least  in  one 
part  of  China  or  the  other)  during  the  eighth  century.  Now,  if  this 
had  been  the  case,  we  should  assuredly  expect  to  find  other  con- 
temporaneous texts  corroborating  this  matter,  but  no  such  text  of  the 
T'ang  period,  as  far  as  I  know,  has  as  yet  come  to  the  fore.  It  seems 
fairly  clear  that  the  interpretation  of  wu  kwei  as  "cormorant"  in 
Tu  Fu's  verse  arose  only  in  the  Sung  period  when  the  subject  of 
cormorant  fishing  became  known  to  scholars,  and  personally  I  am 

Historical  Data  221 

convinced  that  the  cormorant  is  not  visualized  by  Tu  Fu.  But  even 
if  this  were  the  case,  it  would  simply  be  an  isolated  scrap  of  evidence 
to  which  no  great  historical  significance  can  be  attached.  In  my 
opinion  the  line  of  Tu  Fu  means,  "The  families  when  they  perform 
the  ceremony  known  as  'caring  for  the  black  devil,'  feed  (on  this 
festive  occasion)  on  sturgeon."  To  be  sure,  Tu  Fu,  like  Li  Po, 
Wang  Wei,  and  other  poets  of  the  T'ang  period,  was  familiar  with  the 
cormorant;  he  mentions  it  in  a  verse  that  begins  P*j  9%  £§  M  A  ^  2|S, 
but  here  the  bird  appears  under  its  regular  name  lu-ts'e,  and  so  it  is 
designated  by  other  writers,  e.g.  Yuan  Chen  (E.  von  Zach,  Ein 
Brief wechsel  in  Versen,  pp.  216,  220).  The  salient  point  is  that  the 
cormorant  is  mentioned  and  discussed  by  Sui  and  T'ang  authors, 
but  there  is  dead  silence  on  their  part  as  to  the  domestication 
of  the  bird. 

The  J  wu  chi  M  fyj  $  of  Yang  Fu  %jk  *£,  which  is  possibly  a 
work  of  the  Sui  dynasty,  for  instance,  says  that  the  cormorant  dives 
in  deep  water  in  order  to  catch  fish  on  which  it  subsists;  it  is  a  water- 
bird  and  nests  in  high  trees.  A  superstition  dealt  with  below  under 
the  heading  "folk-lore"  is  added  to  the  text,  but  nothing  is  said  about 
the  employment  of  the  bird  in  the  service  of  man. 

In  so-called  classical  literature  the  cormorant  appears  not  to  be 
mentioned.  It  is  not  referred  to  in  the  K'in  king  $f  @  ascribed  to 
Chang  Hua  311  #  (third  century  A.D.),  nor  in  the  Mao  shi  ts'ao  mu 
niao  shou  ch'ung  yu  su  ^  W  ^  ^  th  S£  ^  &  fife  of  Lu  Ki  P£  |$ 
(a.d.  260-303). 

The  earliest  text  that  mentions  the  cormorant  as  trained  for 
fishing  is  contained  in  the  Ts'ing  ilufn^^k  (chap.  _b,  pp.  57b-58), 
written  by  T'ao  Ku  1^1  i£,  who  lived  in  the  tenth  century 
(A.D.  902-970,  according  to  Giles,  Biogr.  Diet.,  No.  1898): 

"For  the  purpose  of  catching  fish  they  use  cormorants  (lu-ts'e) 
which  are  quick  and  alert  to  a  high  degree.  In  the  district  of  Tang- 
t'u  H  ^  there  are  ponds  covered  with  aquatic  plants  and  rocky  hills, 
where  people  live  scattered  on  farms  and  in  cottages  and  raise 
cormorants  in  their  houses  If  J5  I  ^  ^.  They  make  a  small  boat 
fast  on  the  bank  and  daily  send  a  man  —  T  to  catch  fish  for  the 
supply  of  the  families.  A  municipal  official  (yi  yu  IL  §t),  when  he 
passed  this  place,  noticed  it  and  said  to  the  hill-people,  'The  small 
boat  is  the  arena  for  receiving  the  meat  sb  A"  £P  #J  Ut  ^;  the  cor- 
morant is  the  small  official  (siao  yii  /h  M).'  It  is  said  also  that  the 
fishermen  of  the  rivers  and  lakes  use  the  cormorant  and  call  it 
'the  small  official.'  Other  fishermen  bestow  on  the  cormorant  the 
epithet  'black-headed  net'  (wu  t'ou  wang  fik  Bt  i$l)." 

222  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

Tang-t'u  forms  the  prefectural  city  of  T'ai-p'ing  ^c  3*  fft,  An-hui 
Province,  on  the  lower  Yangtse.  How  little  dependence  can  be 
placed  on  the  T'u  shu  tsi  ch'eng  is  shown  by  the  fact  that  this  impor- 
tant document  is  quoted  therein  in  the  following  abbreviated  form: 
"For  the  purpose  of  catching  fish  they  use  cormorants  which  are 
quick  and  alert  to  a  high  degree.  The  people  therefore  speak  of  the 
small  boat  as  the  arena  for  receiving  the  meat  and  of  the  cormorant 
as  the  small  official."  The  locality  and  all  the  significant  points  of 
the  story  are  coldly  deleted.  I  allow  this  to  stand  as  I  wrote  it, 
but  afterwards  when  I  consulted  the  edition  of  the  Ts'ing  i  lu  in  the 
T'ang  Sung  ts'ung  shu  (chap.  2,  p.  13b),  I  found  there  to  my  surprise 
the  text  as  given  in  the  T'u  shu.  There  must  be,  accordingly,  different 
manuscripts  of  the  Ts'ing  i  lu. 

The  document  in  question  is  characteristic  of  the  attitude  of 
Chinese  scholarship.  Here  we  are  confronted  with  the  first  mention 
of  the  domesticated  cormorant  on  Chinese  soil  and  might  justly 
expect  an  expression  of  surprise  or  astonishment  at  so  unusual  an 
achievement,  or  an  inquiry  on  the  author's  part  into  the  origin  of 
this  extraordinary  practice.  It  is  simply  taken  for  granted,  however, 
without  further  comment.  What  the  author  is  interested  in  is  not 
the  novel  fact,  but  a  literary  bon  mot  for  which  his  story  serves  as 
an  explanation.  In  fact,  his  notice  is  entitled  $fo  ))#  i%  (Wj  in  the 
edition  before  me,  printed  in  1875  by  W.  K  M  ffl  #,  is  a  misprint) 
/h  $t,  and  it  is  this  new,  learned  term  that  he  is  intent  on  introducing 
to  his  scholarly  readers.  This  term  has  not  proved  a  success,  for  it 
has  not  been  adopted,  so  far  as  I  know,  by  any  subsequent  author. 
The  case  is  analogous  to  that  of  the  Sung  writers  who  got  excited 
over  the  term  wu  kwei.  The  story  itself  is  perfectly  clear  in  demon- 
strating that  during  the  tenth  century  the  cormorant  was  domesti- 
cated and  reared  for  catching  fish  in  certain  places  of  Tang-t'u, 
apparently  out  of  the  way  and  not  easily  accessible  to  officials,  who 
noted  merely  the  fait  accompli  without  bothering  about  questions 
of  origin  and  development.  Simple  folks,  fishermen  by  avocation, 
had  accomplished  what  an  official  would  never  have  thought  of; 
the  process  of  taming  and  training  the  bird,  ultimately  resulting  in 
its  domestication,  had  remained  unnoticed  by  the  learned,  and  no 
record  of  it  is  preserved. 

This  philological  attitude  is  characteristic  of  the  Chinese  scholarly 
mind.  Words,  phrases,  characters,  inscriptions,  etc.,  have  always 
found  attention  and  were  made  the  subject  of  profound  studies, 
while  the  subject-matter  itself  was  neglected.  It  is  hardly  con- 
ceivable that  a  matter  so  characteristically  Chinese  as  the  domesti- 

Historical  Data  223 

cation  of  the  cormorant,  which  is  an  interesting  scientific  problem 
to  us,  has  left  Chinese  scholars  completely  indifferent.  Ch'en  Hao-tse 
Bfc  M  iP,  in  his  Hwa  king  ~%L  H,  published  in  1688,  devotes  chap- 
ter VI  of  his  work  to  animals  kept  by  man.  Of  birds  he  deals,  for 
example,  with  crane,  peacock,  egret,  parrot,  falcon,  eagle,  pheasant, 
pigeon,  etc.,  but  the  cormorant  is  not  even  mentioned.  The  Ts'e 
yuan  ff  M,  now  revered  and  quoted  by  European  sinologists  as  a 
sort  of  Bible,  exhibits  the  same  defect,  and  in  giving  a  superficial 
definition  of  the  cormorant  does  not  even  mention  the  fact  of  its 
domestication  or  its  employment  in  the  human  household;  the  term 
wu  kwei  is  given  as  a  synonym  of  the  cormorant,  but  not  even  the 
passage  of  Tu  Fu  is  cited,  nor  is  there  any  reference  to  the  con- 
troversy which  it  has  aroused! 

In  one  respect  T'ao  Ku's  story  does  not  enlighten  us.  He  does 
not  describe  the  method  of  fishing  itself,  a  subject  which  did  not 
greatly  interest  him;  and  while  he  says  that  cormorants  were  reared 
in  the  habitations  of  fishermen  in  the  Tang-t'u  District,  which 
indicates  that  the  birds  to  some  extent  must  have  been  domesticated 
in  that  locality  at  that  time  (about  the  middle  of  the  tenth  century), 
we  are  unable  to  judge  to  what  degree  the  domestication  of  the  birds 
had  then  progressed.  Was  it  still  in  the  primary  stage?  Or  had  it 
far  advanced?  The  question  is  important,  for  we  are  anxious  to 
know  to  what  time  the  beginnings  of  this  domestication  go  back. 
If  it  was  in  a  perfect  state  in  T'ao  Ku's  days,  we  have  to  concede 
that  a  considerable  span  of  time  must  have  elapsed  before  this  state 
was  reached;  or,  if  it  then  was  in  its  initial  stages  (and  this  is  more 
probable),  this  concession  becomes  superfluous.  T'ao  Ku's  succinct 
note  does  not  give  us  a  direct  clue  to  the  solution  of  this  problem. 
While  the  domestication  of  the  cormorant  requires  a  great  deal  of 
patience  and  endurance,  it  is  not  excessively  difficult,  and  in  my 
estimation  it  is  not  necessary  to  date  the  preliminary  steps  leading 
to  the  domestication  in  China  farther  back  than  about  the  beginning 
of  the  tenth  century.  More  will  be  said  about  this  point  in  the 
chapter  on  the  Process  of  Domestication. 

The  texts  of  the  K'wei  chou  t'u  king,  Mong  k'i  pi  t'an,  and  Tung 
chai  ki  ski  have  been  quoted  above.  These  refer  alike  to  the  prov- 
ince of  Se-ch'wan,  which  has  played  an  important  role  in  the  domes- 
tication of  the  cormorant,  and  agree  in  emphasizing  the  cord  tied  to 
the  bird's  neck — a  sure  sign  of  its  domestication.  There  can  be  no 
doubt  that  during  the  Sung  period  it  reached  the  state  of  perfection. 

In  the  EryaiffiZfeM,  written  by  Lo  Yuan  H  ^  in  the  twelfth 
century,  it  is  stated,  "At  present  there  are  in  Shu  (Se-ch'wan)  many 

224  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

people  inhabiting  the  water-courses  who  keep  and  raise  cormorants 
by  tying  a  cord  around  their  necks.  In  this  manner  small  fishes 
may  pass  the  bird's  throat,  while  it  is  unable  to  gulp  down  large 
fishes.  From  time  to  time  the  fishermen  call  the  birds  and  relieve 
them  of  their  fishes;  then  they  are  sent  out  again.  They  are  so 
docile  and  familiar  with  man  that  signs  are  sufficient  for  them  to 
grasp  their  masters'  intentions.  When  they  finally  return  to  the 
boat,  whether  with  fishes  or  without,  they  are  detained  and  fed, 
and  then  are  allowed  to  return  home.  This  method  is  comparable 
to  hunting  with  kites  and  sparrow-hawks  without  the  trouble  of 
hustling  around.  The  profit  from  this  business  is  rather  large,  for 
the  fishermen  raise  several  tens  of  birds  and  daily  obtain  several 
tens  of  catties  of  fish.  The  fishes  coming  out  of  the  birds'  throats 
have  a  strong  odor,  being  affected  by  the  unpleasant  saliva  of  the 
birds  [the  cormorant  pockets  its  prey  in  its  oesophagus].  After  they 
have  come  out  of  the  water,  the  fishes  are  spread  out  on  rocks  and 
dried  in  the  sun." 

The  attitude  of  the  T'ang  and  Sung  Pen  ts'ao  literature  toward 
the  cormorant,  as  far  as  its  domestication  is  concerned,  is  negative. 
The  Sin  siu  pen  ts'ao  M  $£  &  ^  (chap.  15,  p.  25b  of  the  facsimile 
edition  published  in  Japan)  does  not  give  a  definition  or  description 
of  the  bird;  in  fact,  the  article  in  question  is  not  entitled  "The 
Cormorant,"  but  "The  Cormorant's  Ordure"  H  M  fa  with  the 
synonym  Shu  shwi  hwa;  the  ordure,  it  is  said,  removes  black  spots 
and  pimples  from  the  face;  and  this  is  followed  by  a  quotation  from 
T'ao  Hung-king,  who  gives  a  bit  of  folk-lore  concerning  the  propaga- 
tion of  the  bird  (below,  p.  255).  Ch'en  Ts'ang-k'i  B  It  2£>  author 
of  the  Pen  ts'ao  shi  i  ^  ^  ^a  Ja,  does  not  go  beyond  this;  and  the 
Pen  ts'ao  yen  i  strings  its  harp  on  the  same  note  (text  given  below, 
p.  255).  T'ang  Shen-wei  Mf  ^  Wi,  in  his  Cheng  lei  pen  ts'ao  Wt  M  ♦  ^ 
of  a.d.  1108  (chap.  19,  p.  19b),  is  not  either  interested  in  the  cormorant 
itself,  although  he  pictures  it  in  a  naively  crude  drawing.  He  is 
contented  to  reiterate  the  data  of  the  Sin  siu  pen  ts'ao.  The  T'ang 
and  Sung  herbalists,  accordingly,  restricted  themselves  to  pharma- 
cological and  folkloristic  notes  without  manifesting  any  real  interest 
in  the  bird  itself.  The  fact  that  the  T'ang  authors  of  Pen  ts'aos  are 
silent  as  to  the  bird's  employment  for  fishing  is,  of  course,  incon- 
clusive; the  Sung  Pentsaoists  do  not  mention  it  either,  although  at 
their  time  this  was  an  accomplished  fact. 

Li  Shi-chen  ^  B#  f£,  in  his  Pen  ts'ao  kang  mu  ^  ^  ffl  @ ,  is 
the  first  herbalist  who  discusses  the  cormorant  with  some  degree  of 

Historical  Data  225 

"Cormorants  occur  everywhere  in  districts  where  water  is  found. 
The  bird  resembles  the  fish-hawk  (yi  f&),  but  is  smaller  than  the 
latter.  In  color  it  is  black  like  a  crow.  It  has  a  long  and  slightly 
curved  bill.  It  is  expert  in  diving  into  water  and  catching  fish. 
During  the  daytime  the  birds  gather  on  islands;  at  night  they  roost 
in  the  trees  of  forests.  The  ordure  of  the  birds  is  poisonous,  and  the 
trees  on  which  for  a  long  time  they  have  perched  will  decay.  The 
fishermen  in  the  southern  parts  of  the  country  keep  them  by  tens, 
tying  them  together,  and  thus  they  catch  fish  for  them.  The  passage 
in  Tu  Fu's  poem  that  'families  raise  black  devils  and  at  every  meal 
feed  on  yellow  fish'  is  referred  by  some  to  this  species.  There  is 
another  kind  resembling  the  cormorant,  but  with  a  head  like  that  of 
a  snake,  a  long  neck,  and  moulting  during  the  winter;  it  roosts  on  the 
banks  of  mountain-streams,  and  at  the  sight  of  men  is  unable  to  walk 
and  dives  into  the  water.  This  is  identical  with  what  the  Er  ya  calls 
yao  t'ou  %&  M  or  yu  kiao  j&  $&.;  it  is  not  used  in  the  pharmacopoeia." 

This  species,  under  the  name  yu  kiao  or  simply  kiao  ("shark"), 
is  also  mentioned  by  Ch'en  Ts'ang-k'i  of  the  T'ang,  who  describes 
it  as  having  a  slender  head  and  a  long  body  and  being  white  in  the 
upper  part  of  the  neck  (cf.  Cheng  lei  pen  ts'ao,  chap.  19,  p.  19b). 
The  description  of  this  species,  as  given  by  Li  Shi-chen,  is  almost 
identical  with  that  in  the  Er  ya  i,  save  that  there  the  reference  to  the 
two  names  is  wanting. 

During  the  Ming  period  cormorant  fishing  appears  to  have  been 
flourishing.  Sii  Fang  %  ^  of  the  Ming  writes,  without  specifying 
localities,  that  "cormorants  were  reared  by  many  people  along  the 
rivers,  being  carried  on  small  rafts.  Fishing  was  done  in  stagnant 
water  or  in  places  where  the  river  formed  eddies  and  where  fishes 
congregated.  The  birds  dived  deeply  into  the  water  and  swiftly 
brought  up  small  fishes;  when  their  strength  failed  in  carrying  big 
ones,  they  broke  them  up.  A  small  ring  was  tied  around  their  necks, 
so  that  they  could  not  swallow  fishes  of  large  size;  when  they  caught 
such,  the  fishermen  took  them  away  at  once.  Small  fishes  entered 
their  throats  as  far  as  the  spot  where  the  ring  was  placed,  but  the 
birds  could  not  swallow  them  on  account  of  the  bones.  When  the 
fishes  had  piled  up  and  the  birds  were  hungry,  they  were  fed  with  a 
couple  of  fishes.  The  birds  were  greedy  and  insatiable,  but  the 
fishermen  were  satisfied  and  reaped  a  large  profit"  (text  in  T'u  shu 
tsi  ch'eng,  XIX,  chap.  45,  i  wen). 

To  the  Buddhists,  naturally,  cormorant  breeding  and  what  is 
associated  with  it  has  been  a  thorn  in  the  flesh.     In  a  Buddhistic 

226  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

tract  written  in  the  colloquial  language  and  published  by  L.  Wieger 
(Moral  Tenets  and  Customs  in  China,  p.  203,  Ho-kien-fu,  1913), 
the  officials  are  urged  to  prohibit  the  keeping  of  cormorants  as  well  as 
fishing  or  catching  crabs.    Here  the  term  yil  ying  M.  M  is  used. 


The  center  of  cormorant  fishing  is  the  lower  Yangtse  Basin 
including  the  provinces  of  An-hui,  Kiang-su,  and  Che-kiang,  the 
present  T'ai-p'ing  fu  on  the  Yangtse  being  pointed  out  as  early  as 
the  tenth  century.  The  region  around  Lake  T'ai  (T'ai  hu)  and  the 
entire  country  intersected  by  a  net  of  canals  around  Wu-si,  Su-chou, 
Hang-chou,  Chu  chou,  Shao-hing,  Fung-hua,  and  Ning-po  swarm 
with  cormorants  kept  by  fishermen.  The  easternmost  point  to  which 
the  trained  cormorant  advanced  is  Ting-hai  on  the  Island  of  Chu-san 
(Ting-hai  t'ing  chi  ^  M  M  $,  chap.  34,  p.  42).  The  most  celebrated 
of  the  localities  of  Che-kiang  is  T'ang-si-chen,  a  small  town  situated  50 
li  northwest  of  Hang-chou,  whose  inhabitants  are  reputed  to 
possess  a  secret  which  insures  to  them  a  decided  success  in  the  rearing 
of  cormorants  (Fauvel,  p.  230).  Nearly  all  district  and  prefectural 
gazetteers  of  the  province  allude  to  the  industry;  for  example, 
Ts'ing-t'ien  Men  chi  pf  BB  $£  a£  (1875,  chap.  4,  p.  29) ;  Shao-hing  fu 
chi  *g  m  #F  1&,  chap.  11,  p.  31;  Ts'e-k'i  hien  chi  &  &  U  1&, 
chap.  54,  p.  9.  In  the  region  of  Shao-hing  and  Ning-po  I  observed 
cormorant  fishing  many  times  in  1901. 

From  Che-kiang  the  practice  spread  to  the  province  southward, 
Fu-kien.  A  careful  examination  of  the  prefectural  and  district 
gazetteers  of  this  province  in  the  Library  of  Congress  has  led  me  to 
the  following  result.  Fishing  with  cormorants  occurs  all  along  the 
seacoast  of  Fu-kien  from  Fu-ning  fu  in  the  north  down  to  Fu-chou, 
Hing-hua,  Ts'iian-chou,  and  Chang-chou  in  the  south,  all  along  the 
Min  River  from  Yen-p'ing  to  Fu-chou;  further,  in  Lung-yen  chou, 
Yung-ch'un  chou,  as  far  west  as  T'ing-chou  fu  (tT  #i  fft  1&,  chap.  8, 
p.  19)  and  as  far  north  as  Kien-ning  fu.  It  may  be  said,  therefore, 
that  cormorant  fishing  is  generally  practised  over  the  entire  province. 

As  to  Fu-chou,  cormorant  fishing  was  observed  by  R.  Fortune 
(I  p.  88)  in  1843  and  by  G.  Smith  in  1845  in  the  suburb  of  Nan-tai 
(Chinese  Repository,  XV,  1846,  p.  207).  Freeman  and  Salvin 
(p.  328)  also  state  that  they  met  with  people  who  saw  it  about 
Fu-chou  fu,  at  the  mouth  of  the  river.  Cormorant  fishing  is  still 
actively  pursued  there. 

The  two  coterminous  provinces  Che-kiang  and  Fu-kien  have 
always  exchanged  cultural  products,  and  most  probably  cormorant 
fishing  spread  from  Che-kiang  to  Fu-kien.  The  Gazetteer  of 
Hing-hua  fa  H  ft  #F  j&  (chap.  14,  p.  6)  in  Fu-kien  stresses  the 


228  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

fact  that  "the  people  of  Che-kiang  are  in  the  habit  of  raising  cor- 
morants who  dive  to  catch  fish,  swallowing  the  small  ones,  but 
bringing  the  big  ones  to  their  master." 

In  Fu-chou,  Fu-kien,  it  seems  to  be  customary  that  when  a  bird 
has  brought  a  fish  to  the  surface,  the  boatman  paddles  his  raft  to  the 
spot  and  casts  a  net  into  the  river,  hauling  bird  and  fish  on  board 
(G.  Smith,  Chinese  Repository,  XV,  1846,  p.  207).  This  unnecessary 
procedure  goes  to  show  that  the  fishermen  in  question  had  passed  to 
the  use  of  the  cormorant  from  a  former  method  of  fishing  with  nets. 
J.  Doolittle  (Social  Life  of  the  Chinese,  I,  1865,  p.  55)  intimates 
that  the  fishermen  of  Fu-chou  take  bird  and  fish  out  of  the  water  with 
a  dip-net  only  in  case  the  fish  is  a  large  one  and  a  struggle  ensues 
between  bird  and  fish. 

In  An-hui  Province,  to  which  our  earliest  Chinese  account  relates, 
the  district  of  Wu-ho  3l  f^T  f$  enjoys  a  reputation  for  breeding 
cormorants  (Korrigan,  p.  39).  This  method  of  fishing  is  practised 
all  along  the  Huai  River  ?#  M,  which  traverses  Ho-nan  and  the 
northern  part  of  An-hui. 

As  to  the  province  of  Kiang-si,  we  have  observations  of  cor- 
morant fishing  made  in  the  prefecture  of  Nan-an  ^j  5£?  f(f  by  Father 
Ripa  in  1710  (F.  Prandi,  Memoirs  of  Father  Ripa,  1844,  p.  40). 
The  P'o-yang  Lake  in  this  province,  as  well  as  the  Tung-t'ing  Lake 
in  the  adjoining  province  of  Hu-nan,  swarms  with  fishermen  who  avail 
themselves  of  the  cormorant.  The  birds  coming  from  Hu-nan,  as 
well  as  from  Ho-nan,  enjoy  a  special  reputation.  The  district  of 
Siang-yin  M  "i?  in  the  prefecture  of  Ch'ang-sha,  and  Li  chou 
^  ^N,  as  well,  are  emphasized  as  cormorant-breeding  localities  in  the 
Hu-nan  fang  wu  chi  M1&  ~3j  %  ^  (chap.  2,  p.  17;  chap.  7,  p.  14. 
Regarding  this  work  see  below,  p.  237). 

In  Kwang-tung  Province  cormorant  fishing  is  practised  at  Ts'ung- 
hua  $t  it,  in  the  prefecture  of  Kwang-chou  (witnessed  by  J.  H.  Gray, 
China,  II,  1878,  p.  297).  De  Guignes  (Voyages  a  Peking,  Manille 
etc.  faits  dans  l'intervalle  des  ann^es  1784  a  1801,  I,  1808,  pp.  271, 
289,  293)  observed  in  1794  cormorant  fishing  in  the  prefecture  of 
Shao-chou  IS  #1  #p.  Dyer  Ball  mentions  the  North  River  above 
Canton  and  the  river  above  Ch'ao-chou  fu  M  :H1  fft. 

Dr.  Gudger  (I  pp.  37,  38)  has  reproduced  two  photographs 
taken  by  Dr.  C.  K.  Edmunds  in  1907  on  the  Fu  River,  a  tributary 
of  the  Si  Kiang  or  West  River.  Dr.  Edmunds  states  that  he  found 
fishing  with  the  cormorant  everywhere  practised  on  the  lower  sections 
of  the  Grand  Canal  and  the  connecting  canals  in  the  Yangtse  Delta 
and  throughout  South  China  generally. 

Geographical  Distribution  229 

That  there  is  cormorant  breeding  in  Kwei-chou  Province  may  be 
inferred  from  a  note  of  E.  H.  Parker  (Up  the  Yangtse,  p.  233,  Shang- 
hai, 1899),  who  observed  fishing  cormorants  in  the  gorges  of  the 
upper  Yangtse  and  remarks,  "They  are  said  to  come  from  the  wild 
lands  of  Yun-nan  and  Kwei-chou,  notably  from  the  Wu-chiang 
River  in  the  latter  province.  There  is  a  well-known  place  on  the 
Se-ch'wan  and  Yun-nan  frontier,  called  Lao-wa  Tan,  which  perhaps 
may  have  some  connection  with  the  catching  of  these  birds."  E.  G. 
Kemp  (The  Face  of  China,  1909,  p.  201)  gives  a  colored  picture  of 
the  Lao-wa  Tan  river  and  village,  saying  that  the  name  means 
"cormorant  rapid." 

Cormorant  fishing  in  Yiin-nan  Province  is  attested  by  T'an  Ts'ui 
W.  3£  in  his  Tien  hai  yu  heng  chi  M  ffe  M  $&  M  (chap.  6,  p.  3b,  ed. 
of  Wen  ying  lou  yii  ti  ts'ung  shu),  published  in  1799.  "In  the  southern 
part  of  Tien  (Yiin-nan)  the  inhabitants  of  many  mountains  and 
rivers  rear  cormorants  by  catching  them.  Though  it  cannot  be  said 
that  'all  families  raise  black  devils'  [quoting  Tu  Fu],  they  occur  in 
certain  places.  In  the  same  manner  as  they  rear  falcons  to  seize 
pheasants  and  hares,  they  raise  cormorants  for  the  purpose  of 
catching  fish.  These  birds  perfectly  understand  the  commands  of 
men  and  exert  themselves  for  men's  benefit.  They  are  also  styled 
'aquatic  old  crow.'  It  happens  that  several  birds  unite  forces  in 
catching  a  large  fish,  some  pecking  the  eyes  of  the  fish,  others  its  fins, 
others  its  tail  and  dorsal  fin.  When  the  fish  is  thus  exhausted,  they  lift 
it  together  out  of  the  water,  and  their  master  takes  the  fish.  Truly, 
a  clever  performance!"  See  also  Yiin-nan  t'ung  chi  k'ao  (chap.  68, 
p.  23),  which  in  the  main  cites  T'an  Ts'ui. 

His  observation  as  to  several  birds  seizing  a  large  fish  is  quite 
correct  and  has  also  been  made  by  several  European  writers.  "And, 
what  is  more  wonderful  still,  if  one  of  the  cormorants  gets  hold  of  a 
fish  of  large  size,  so  large  that  he  would  have  some  difficulty  in 
taking  it  to  the  boat,  some  of  the  others,  seeing  his  dilemma,  hasten 
to  his  assistance,  and  with  their  efforts  united  capture  the  animal 
and  haul  him  off  to  the  boat"  (R.  Fortune).  Harting  once  saw 
three  cormorants  trying  to  tackle  a  large  eel  which  one  of  them  had 
brought  up,  but  from  its  size  and  weight  could  not  hold;  the  other 
two  came  to  his  assistance,  and  the  three  worried  it  like  hounds  with 
a  fox. 

F.  Gamier  (Voyage  d'exploration  en  Indo-Chine,  I,  1873,  p.  517) 
noticed  the  fishing  with  cormorants  on  the  lake  of  Ta-li  fu,  Yiin-nan, 
saying  that  the  fishermen  cast  rice  on  the  water  as  a  bait  to  the 

230  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

fish.  Prince  Henri  d'Orleans  (From  Tonkin  to  India,  1898,  p.  141) 
observed  cormorant  fishing  on  the  lake  of  Ta-li  fu,  giving  a  sketch 
of  a  boat  with  eight  birds. 

The  province  of  Se-ch'wan  has  been  an  active  center  of  cormorant 
breeding  and  fishing  ever  since  the  days  of  the  Sung  dynasty.  We 
have  seen  in  the  section  of  Historical  Data  that  the  prefecture  of 
K'wei-chou  H  ji\  M  played  an  eminent  role  in  this  respect  during 
the  middle  ages.  The  Se-ch'wan  t'ung  chi  P9  )\\  M,  ^  (chap.  74,  pp.  21, 
28a)  gives  the  same  prefecture,  as  well  as  Mei  chou  M  jW,  among 
localities  where  cormorants  are  kept.  They  are  likewise  used  in  the 
districts  of  Ch'eng-tu  and  Hwa-yang  ($t  %$  H  1&,  chap.  3,  p.  10; 
#  IB  II  £,  chap.  42,  p.  49b). 

On  the  whole,  cormorant  fishing  occurs  intensely  in  central, 
western,  and  southern  China.  The  foregoing  citations  of  localities 
should  merely  be  taken  as  examples.  It  is  impossible  and  also  un- 
necessary to  give  a  complete  list  of  such  localities.  In  the  north  of 
China  keeping  of  cormorants  is  comparatively  rare,  but  sporadically 
it  does  occur  wherever  conditions  are  suitable. 

As  to  Shan-tung,  F.  von  Richthofen  (Schantung,  1898,  p.  97) 
limits  cormorant  fishing  to  the  western  part  of  the  province,  which 
is  quite  natural,  as  the  employment  of  the  bird  followed  the  Grand 
Canal.  John  Barrow's  (Travels  in  China,  1804,  p.  506)  brief  remarks 
refer  to  Tsi-ning  chou. 

J.  NieuhofTs  (or  Neuhof's)  account  (Gesantschaft  der  ost-indi- 
schen  Geselschaft,  1669,  p.  134)  of  cormorant  fishing  refers  to  Ning- 
yang  ^  Wj  in  Yen-chou  fu,  western  Shan-tung.  In  another  passage 
(p.  353)  Nieuhof  writes  that  the  bird  louwa,  as  he  calls  it  (the  name 
cormorant  was  unknown  to  him),  occurs  throughout  Sina. 

Dr.  Gudger  (I  p.  39)  has  reproduced  a  photograph  taken  in  1921 
by  Mrs.  Mary  G.  Lucas  of  cormorants  ready  for  fishing  on  a  stream 
outside  of  Peking.  I  have  never  seen  cormorant  fishing  or  heard  of 
it  in  the  environment  of  Peking  or  in  other  places  of  Chi-li,  but 
Sowerby  (p.  72)  refers  domesticated  cormorants  to  the  vicinity  of 
the  lakes  in  Pao-ting  fu  and  to  the  stretches  of  water  to  the  west 
of  Tientsin. 

That  cormorant  fishing  occurs  on  the  Wei  River  in  Shen-si  is 
known  to  me  only  from  a  photograph  published  by  Clark  and 
Sowerby,  "Through  Shen-kan,"  plate  XX,  which  is  thus  captioned, 
but  no  description  of  it  is  given. 

As  has  been  shown,  cormorant  fishing  is  distributed  in  China  over 
a  vast  stretch  of  territory.  The  cause  of  this  wide  distribution  lies 
in  the  fact  that  the  bird  has  been  truly  domesticated  and  is  bred  in 

Geographical  Distribution  231 

captivity,  with  the  result  that  hundreds  of  birds  thus  bred  can  be 
easily  transported  from  one  locality  to  another  where  there  are 
prospective  fishing  grounds.  In  opposition  to  China,  cormorant 
fishing  is  restricted  in  Japan  to  certain  localities  and  practically 
to  a  single  fish,  the  ayu  aforementioned.  In  Japan,  the  trained 
cormorants  are  recruited  and  always  replenished  from  wild  stock, 
so  that  no  active  trade  in  the  birds  could  develop.  The  principal 
and  famous  old  center  of  cormorant  fishing  in  Japan  is  the  Nagara 
River  It  $i  )\\,  the  town  of  Gifu  C&  -$•  being  the  metropolis  of  the 

Cormorant  fishing  is  further  practised  on  Lake  Biwa  and  in  the 
northern  part  of  Kyushu  in  the  Naka  and  Sawara  Rivers,  in 
the  department  of  Fukuoka  M  |33  JH,  province  of  Chikugo;  and  in  the 
Sagami  +11  ^,  Tama  %  Hi  or  3£  JM  and  Ara  $c  Jl|  Rivers  near  Tokyo, 
which  enter  into  the  Sea  of  Japan. 

A  study  of  the  geographical  distribution,  unfortunately,  does  not 
allow  us  to  recognize  exactly  in  what  territory  of  China  the  cormorant 
was  first  domesticated  and  how  it  was  diffused  from  this  center  to 
other  localities.  The  documents  fail  us.  Certain  it  is  that  northern 
China  must  be  excluded  from  the  places  where  the  domestication 
might  have  originated.  The  lower  Yangtse  Basin  would  seem  to 
have  been  the  logical  center.  I  would  not  lay  too  much  stress  on 
the  fact  that  the  majority  of  Sung  authors  refer  to  cormorant  fishing 
in  Se-ch'wan;  the  fact  remains  that  they  were  not  interested  in 
the  subject  itself,  but  that  they  were  exercised  over  the  significance 
of  the  term  wu  kwei;  and  since  the  latter  hailed  from  Se-ch'wan, 
the  existence  of  trained  cormorants  there  had  to  be  emphasized. 
While  in  this  manner  we  get  good  evidence  for  Se-ch'wan,  there  is 
no  reason  to  believe  that  the  trained  cormorant  was  monopolized 
by  this  province  during  the  Sung  period;  it  must  certainly  have 
persisted  in  the  prefecture  of  T'ai-p'ing  on  the  lower  Yangtse,  where 
it  is  reported  in  the  tenth  century.  Assuming  that  there  the  primeval 
domestication  took  its  origin,  it  is  not  difficult  to  realize  how  from 
An-hui  and  Che-kiang  it  spread  to  Fu-kien,  Kiang-si,  Hu-nan,  and 
Kwang-tung,  how  another  movement  sent  the  domestication  up  the 
Yangtse  to  Se-ch'wan  and  Yun-nan,  and  finally  how  the  Imperial 
Canal  promoted  its  northward  migration  through  Kiang-su,  Shan- 
tung, and  Chi-li. 


The  first  problem  that  confronts  us  is,  What  is  the  relation  of 
Japanese  to  Chinese  cormorant  fishing?  Did  one  nation  acquire  the 
domestication  from  the  other?  Or  what  was  the  historical  develop- 
ment? The  only  author  who  has  ever  ventilated  this  question  is 
Dr.  Gudger  (II  p.  8),  who  argues  as  follows:  "If  now  the  commonly 
held  belief  be  accepted  that  Chinese  culture  and  civilization  (includ- 
ing the  use  of  the  cormorant  in  fishing)  antedated  that  of  Japan, 
then,  since  we  have  dates  for  the  sending  of  Chinese  embassies  to 
Japan,  we  need  not  find  it  difficult  to  believe  that  the  Japanese 
learned  this  method  of  taking  fish  from  the  Chinese,  and  indeed 
possibly  got  their  first  birds  from  these  embassies."  This  conclusion, 
first  of  all,  is  based  on  wrong  premises;  and,  secondly,  is  a  rather 
sweeping  generalization  unsupported  by  any  evidence.  Gudger  did 
not  have  the  historical  side  of  the  question  straight.  He  quotes  the 
notice  of  the  Sui  shu  indirectly  by  translating  it  from  Hervey-Saint- 
Denys'  rendering  of  Ma  Twan-lin's  Wen  hien  t'ung  k'ao,  and  is  thus 
led  to  the  belief  that  it  refers  to  the  thirteenth  (instead  of  the  sixth 
or  seventh)  century.  Ma  Twan-lin's  work,  of  course,  has  no  inde- 
pendent value  and  presents  merely  a  compilation  of  older  sources; 
the  quotation  given  by  Dr.  Gudger  is  merely  copied  from  the  account 
of  Japan  contained  in  the  Sui  Annals.  As  shown  above,  this  is  the 
earliest  extant  reference  to  cormorant  fishing  in  the  world,  and  is 
much  earlier  than  any  Chinese  references  to  the  practice  in  China. 
The  first  unmistakable  notice  of  cormorant  training  in  China  is  not 
older  than  the  tenth  century,  so  that  according  to  our  Chinese 
documentary  evidence  the  use  of  the  bird  in  Japan  antedates  that 
in  China  by  at  least  three  centuries,  while  according  to  Japanese 
sources  it  is  even  much  older.  For  this  reason  no  serious  historian 
will  rush  at  the  conclusion  that  the  Japanese  have  simply  adopted 
the  domestication  from  the  Chinese,  or  will  indulge  in  such  com- 
fortable speculations  as  the  one  that  the  Japanese  possibly  got  their 
first  birds  from  Chinese  embassies.  If  this  had  been  the  case,  Japanese 
writers  would  have  been  sincere  enough  to  admit  it.  Whenever  the 
Japanese  received  cultural  elements  from  China  or  Korea,  they  placed 
such  indebtedness  on  record.  We  have  no  right  to  conclude  that 
because  much  of  ancient  Japanese  culture  is  derived  from  China, 


Japanese  and  Chinese  Cormorant  Fishing  233 

everything  Japanese  must  have  radiated  from  the  same  center;  this 
has  to  be  proved  for  each  and  every  case,  and  we  have  to  be  mindful 
of  the  fact  that  there  are  numerous  Japanese  cultural  traits  which 
cannot  be  laid  at  the  threshold  of  China.  L.  Reinhardt  (Kultur- 
geschichte  der  Nutztiere,  1912,  p.  403),  without  giving  any  reason, 
alleges  that  the  Japanese  learned  the  fishing  with  cormorants  from 
the  Chinese. 

Let  us  consider  the  opposite  possibility  that  the  Chinese  might 
be  indebted  to  Japan  for  the  trained  cormorant.  E.  H.  Parker,  in 
translating  Ma  Twan-lin's  account  of  Japan  (Transactions  As.  Soc. 
of  Japan,  XXII,  1894,  p.  44),  comments  on  the  cormorant  passage, 
"It  would  thus  seem  that  the  Chinese  owe  at  least  one  idea  to  the 
Japanese."  The  Chinese  knew  of  this  Japanese  fishing  method  in 
the  beginning  of  the  seventh  century,  and  the  fact  was  recorded  in 
the  official  dynastic  annals.  The  records  of  foreign  countries  con- 
tained in  the  Sui  shu,  as  well  as  the  biographical  portion,  were 
completed  in  a.d.  636.  It  would  not  be  impossible  that  a  Chinese 
official  who  read  this  notice  might  have  conceived  the  idea  of  inducing 
his  compatriots  to  try  the  same  experiment;  but,  if  an  official  had 
taken  the  initiative  in  this  matter,  some  official  record  of  this  event 
would  surely  have  been  preserved.  And  then  we  should  expect  to 
see  this  experiment  carried  out  soon  afterwards,  say,  in  the  beginning 
of  the  T'ang  period ;  yet  we  face  this  long  gap  of  nearly  three  centuries 
between  the  Sui  and  the  Wu-tai  periods  which  cannot  be  bridged 
over.  The  possibility  that  the  Japanese  account  of  the  Sui  shu  or 
Pei  shi  should  have  struck  the  eyes  of  a  fisherman  of  An-hui,  Che- 
kiang,  or  Se-ch'wan  appears  to  me  so  remote  that  it  does  not  merit 
a  discussion. 

The  plain  fact  remains  that  Chinese  sources  do  not  admit  any 
indebtedness  to  Japan  in  matters  of  cormorant  fishing,  in  the  same 
manner  as  the  Japanese  on  their  part  do  not  credit  it  to  the  Chinese. 
And  this  fact,  in  my  opinion,  carries  weight.  I  have  already  insisted 
on  Japanese  honesty,  and  I  plead  the  same  degree  of  honesty  for  the 
Chinese.  Every  one  familiar  with  the  history  of  Chinese  civilization 
knows  only  too  well  that  the  Chinese  have  always  been  frank  and 
upright  in  acknowledging  foreign  loans.  To  us  trained  in  scientific 
thought  the  domestication  of  the  cormorant  appears  a  significant 
affair;  and,  as  pointed  out,  it  is  a  unique  phenomenon  in  the  history 
of  the  world.  To  the  Japanese  and  Chinese,  however,  who  alone  of 
all  peoples  accomplished  the  permanent  training  of  the  bird,  it  is 
something  insignificant  over  which  they  never  made  any  fuss.  These 
two  nations  were  always  distinguished  for  modesty,  reserve,  lack  of 

234  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

conceit  and  ego  worship.  Neither  preserved  the  name  of  the  first 
fisherman  or  men  who  did  the  deed.  It  was  too  trifling  a  matter. 
But  if  the  Greeks  or  Romans  had  accomplished  it,  what  pride  would 
swell  the  chests  of  our  classicists!  Of  course,  the  Greeks  would  have 
handed  down  the  name  of  the  "inventor"  with  a  romantic  story  of 
how  his  genius  was  inspired  by  the  gods,  and  every  school  boy  in 
our  midst  would  be  obliged  to  learn  it  by  heart.  As  matters  stand 
now,  he  is  spared  this  thrilling  or  sad  experience,  and  things  peculiarly 
Japanese  and  Chinese  do  not  bother  our  public.  The  thirteenth 
edition  of  the  Encyclopaedia  Britannica  devotes  an  entire  column 
to  the  cormorant  with  a  lengthy  story  of  its  training  in  Europe, 
but  maintains  cold  silence  about  its  domestication  in  Japan  and 
China!  In  the  fourteenth  and  last  edition  the  article  in  question  is 
curtailed  to  a  half  column,  and  it  is  said,  "The  practice  is  nearly 
obsolete  in  Europe,  though  still  common  in  China."    And  this  is  all. 

As  the  evidence  stands,  there  is  but  one  conclusion  admissible, 
and  this  is  that  the  domestication  of  the  cormorant  and  everything 
connected  therewith  was  independently  achieved  in  China  and  Japan. 
This  conclusion  is  corroborated  by  many  facts  which  lie  in  the 
domestication  itself.    The  principal  facts  are  as  follows: 

The  method  of  using  and  treating  the  cormorant  in  Japan  is 
fundamentally  and  radically  different  from  that  of  China.  Here  the 
Latin  saying  "si  duo  idem  faciunt,  idem  non  est"  holds  good.  What 
the  Japanese  practise  may  be  briefly  defined  under  the  name  of  the 
harness  or  team  method.  A  cord  or  rein  of  spruce  fiber,  about  twelve 
feet  long,  is  attached  to  the  body  of  each  bird,  and  the  master  lowers 
the  birds  one  by  one,  altogether  a  team  of  twelve,  into  the  stream 
and  gathers  all  reins  in  his  left  hand,  manipulating  the  various  lines 
thereafter  with  his  right  hand,  as  occasion  requires,  to  keep  them 
free  of  tangles.  This  method  is  absolutely  unknown  anywhere  in 
China.  In  China,  the  cormorant  has  reached  a  perfect  stage  of 
domestication,  is  reared  in  captivity,  and  is  the  born  slave  of  his 
master.  Nothing  like  this  is  at  present  done  in  Japan,  where  the 
cormorants  pressed  into  service  are  all  caught  from  wild  stock  on 
the  coast  of  the  Owari  Gulf  and  immediately  receive  their  training. 
The  Japanese  method  in  all  its  various  details  is  as  different  from 
the  Chinese  as  both  Japanese  and  Chinese  methods  are  at  variance 
with  that  formerly  adopted  in  Europe.  What  these  methods  are 
will  be  more  fully  discussed  in  the  following  chapter.  The  point  to 
be  made  here  is  that  in  view  of  these  principal  differences  Chinese 
and  Japanese  utilization  of  the  cormorant  cannot  have  a  common 
basis  of  origin.    The  two  are  entirely  distinct.    The  only  point  in 

Japanese  and  Chinese  Cormorant  Fishing  235 

common  to  the  two  civilizations  is  that  the  cormorant  is  used  by 
man  for  the  purpose  of  catching  fish;  but  this  is  all,  and  here  the 
coincidence  comes  to  an  end.  The  discrepancies  outbalance  in 
weight  the  outward  similarity.  Different  causes,  different  methods 
and  technique  have  merely  yielded  a  similar  result. 

Another  observation  remains  to  be  made.  It  is  a  significant 
fact  that  cormorant  fishing  was  never  practised  in  Korea  and  that 
it  is  unknown  there  at  present  (I  speak  advisedly,  as  I  had  occasion 
to  interrogate  Korean  students  on  this  point).  Accordingly,  cormo- 
rant fishing  does  not  belong  to  that  series  of  culture  elements  which 
spread  from  China  to  Korea  and  were  further  transmitted  from  Korea 
to  Japan.  In  fact,  the  Chinese  cormorant  domestication  did  not 
spread  at  all;  it  was  not  communicated  to  any  of  those  nations  which 
came  under  the  spell  of  Chinese  civilization.  The  aboriginal  tribes 
inhabiting  western  and  southern  China  did  not  adopt  it;  neither  did 
the  Annamese  or  any  other  peoples  of  Indo-China  or  the  Siamese, 
Burmese,  or  Malayans.  The  domestication  of  the  cormorant  and 
the  peculiar  method  of  raising,  training,  and  using  the  bird  have 
remained  a  purely  and  typically  Chinese  affair.  And  this  method 
did  not  spread  to  Japan.  Japan  has  evolved  a  method  of  her  own 
and  peculiarly  herself  without  the  aid  of  outward  influences. 

The  question  of  a  possible  mutual  stimulus,  that  may  be  raised, 
dwindles  into  insignificance  and  is  wholly  immaterial,  as  compared 
with  the  basic  processes.  If  it  is  a  question  of  priority  and  precedence 
in  originality,  the  balance  of  the  evidence  certainly  favors  the 


The  only  scholar  who  has  treated  of  the  cormorant  as  a  domesti- 
cation, unfortunately  too  briefly,  is  Eduard  Hahn  (Die  Haustiere, 
1896,  pp.  347-350).  No  other  book  dealing  seriously  with  domesti- 
cated animals — and  there  are  many  of  these — mentions  the  cormo- 
rant. Hahn  points  out  that  the  cormorant  as  a  domesticated  animal 
is  an  achievement  of  Chinese  civilization,  which  shows  the  patience 
and  intelligence  of  the  Chinese  at  their  best.  He  refers  to  Friar 
Odoric,  Armand  David,  and  R.  Fortune.  It  was  vaguely  known  to 
him  that  fishing  with  cormorants  is  practised  in  Japan,  and  he  offers 
a  curious  misunderstanding  of  a  passage  in  Journal  asiatique  (1871, 
p.  403),  "If  it  be  correct  that  the  mythical  Matwan-lin  is  Japan, 
this  method  must  go  back  to  very  ancient  times,  as  far  back  as  the 
sixth  century  A.D."  L.  Reinhardt,  in  his  popular  book,  "Kultur- 
geschichte  der  Nutztiere"  (1912,  pp.  400-403),  gives  a  few  notes  on 
the  life  of  the  wild  bird,  copies  the  historical  information  of  Hahn 
(without  acknowledgment  and  adding  some  errors  of  his  own),  and 
says  very  little  about  the  domestication  itself. 

The  wild  cormorant  is  not  difficult  to  tame.  The  only  statement 
to  the  contrary  I  have  found  is  made  by  L.  Reinhardt  (op.  cit.,  p.  403), 
who  writes,  "As  the  excellent  ornithologist  Naumann  with  good 
reason  designates  the  cormorant  as  difficult  to  tame  and  fond  of 
biting,  the  great  patience  and  endurance  of  the  Chinese  in  making 
it  a  domestic  animal  must  be  the  more  acknowledged."  Naumann 
may  have  been  a  good  ornithologist,  but  has  never  attempted  to 
train  a  cormorant.    Those  who  did  venture  to  dissent  from  him. 

Harting  (p.  438),  who  had  much  experience  in  training  cormorants, 
states  that  "cormorants  are  by  no  means  difficult  to  train,  and  do 
not  require  half  the  care  and  attention  which  has  to  be  bestowed 
upon  hawks  for  example."  Pichot  (p.  27)  writes  in  the  same  spirit. 
"This  web-footed  marine  bird  is  very  easily  tamed.  His  heart  is  very 
near  to  his  stomach,  and  one  may  be  reached  by  way  of  the  other.  As 
I  was  engaged  in  falconry,  I  was  naturally  led  to  practising  cormorant 
fishing.  This  is  a  delightful  sport  and  the  easier,  as  the  cormorant 
becomes  rapidly  familiar;  if  you  feed  him  out  of  your  hand,  you  will 
have  trouble  to  prevent  him  from  following  you  everywhere,  ascend- 
ing the  stairs  behind  you,  perching  on  your  furniture,  and  leaving 
on  all  pieces  incontestable  traces  of  his  rapid  and  abundant  digestion." 


The  Process  of  Domestication  237 

In  China,  the  cormorant  has  attained  the  stage  of  a  complete 
and  perfect  domestication,  the  birds  propagating  and  being  reared 
in  captivity.  It  is  said  by  Sowerby  (p.  73)  that  the  domestic  stocks 
are  replenished  from  time  to  time  by  the  capture  of  wild  birds  or 
by  robbing  the  latter's  nests;  it  is  very  sensible,  of  course,  to  refresh 
the  blood  of  a  domestic  species  occasionally  by  interbreeding  with  a 
wild  congener,  but  I  believe  this  is  but  seldom  done.  The  early 
travelers  to  China  were  merely  content  to  record  their  surface  observa- 
tions of  cormorant  fishing  without  inquiring  into  the  life  and  habits 
of  the  bird.  Nieuhoff  was  the  only  one  who  possessed  enough 
intelligence  to  ask  the  question  whether  the  birds  also  propagated 
and  bred  many  young,  and  was  given  the  reply  that  "this  happens, 
but  very  slowly  and  little."  (Dr.  Gudger  [I  p.  12]  cites  Nieuhoff  in 
Ogilby's  English  translation  of  1669,  which  in  the  cormorant  section 
is  inaccurate  and  deficient.) 

A  statement  concerning  the  use  of  domesticated  birds  is  also 
found  in  a  Chinese  source.  The  Hu-nan  fang  wu  chi  ffll  1&  3j  fyj  ]& 
("Record  of  the  Local  Products  of  Hu-nan  Province"),  written 
in  1818  by  Ki  Chung-liang  Jgf  to  &  and  Tsiang  Siang-wei  M  &  #t 
(chap.  7,  p.  14;  edition  before  me  printed  in  1864)  cites  from  the 
San  ch'ang  wu  chai  Ch'ang  shwo  H  £t  %  #  H:  s£  the  following:  "In 
the  south  the  cormorants  are  all  attached  to  the  fishermen's  houses, 
and  are  fed  and  reared  by  them.  I  have  never  heard  that  birds  born 
in  freedom  (or  wild  birds)  are  used  for  fishing"  ($j  +  S&  M  %  fl& 
%  J&  #  *  K  ^  W  £  #).  The  date  of  the  book  San  ch'ang,  etc., 
is  not  directly  known  to  me,  but  as  farther  on  Li  Shi-chen's  Pen 
ts'ao  kang  mu  is  quoted  in  it,  it  must  be  a  product  of  the  seventeenth 
or  eighteenth  century;  the  title  of  the  book  is  Ch'ang  shwo,  and  it 
was  published  by  the  San  ch'ang  wu  Studio  which  issued  also  a 
ts'ung  shu. 

The  effect  of  the  domestication  is  shown  in  the  complete  submis- 
sion and  subordination  of  the  birds,  who  become  as  docile  and  obedient 
as  dogs,  knowing  their  master  and  his  boat  and  understanding  his 
commands  perfectly  well,  and  in  their  outward  appearance  they 
display  variation  in  color,  a  marked  characteristic  of  all  domestic 
breeds.  Sowerby  (p.  72)  observed  in  Chi-li  many  pied  or  even 
pure  white  individuals. 

The  females  lay  yearly  from  three  to  nine  eggs  in  the  first  and 
eighth  month.  The  eggs  are  green  in  color  and  the  size  of  a  duck's 
egg;  what  is  called  the  white  of  the  egg  is  light  greenish;  the  eggs 
are  never  consumed.  The  eggs  of  the  first  month  are  the  only  ones 
retained  for  hatching,  for  the  reason  that  the  young  birds  will  grow 

238  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

up  in  the  spring;  if  those  of  the  eighth  month  were  hatched,  the  young, 
who  are  extremely  sensitive  to  cold  weather,  it  is  feared,  would  not 
live  through  the  winter.  The  eggs  are  always  hatched  by  hens,  not 
by  the  cormorant  mother.  The  only  author  who  gives  a  different 
account  is  Dabry  de  Thiersant,  who  writes  that  "the  cormorants 
prepare  in  a  spot  retired  and  dark  a  nest  of  straw,  on  which  the 
female  lays  her  eggs  which  she  herself  covers  all  the  time."  I  have 
but  little  confidence  in  this  statement,  in  view  of  the  fact  that  the 
author  shows  himself  rather  uncritical  and  credulous  in  his  notes 
on  the  cormorant;  for  instance,  when  he  asserts  that  on  the  tenth 
day  after  birth  the  fledglings  are  taken  by  the  trainer  out  on  his 
boat  and  seek  their  places  on  the  common  perch;  while  the  training, 
in  fact,  begins  only  two  months  from  the  date  of  birth. 

The  fact  that  the  eggs  are  given  to  hens  to  hatch  is  attributed  by 
several  authors  to  the  female  cormorants  being  bad  mothers  (Fauvel, 
p.  230).  "Curiously  enough  the  mothers  are  so  careless  that  they 
cannot  be  trusted  to  rear  their  own  young"  (Gordon-Cumming  in 
Dyer  Ball,  p.  182).  This  comment  savors  of  Chinese  mentality, 
being  made  in  response  to  a  question,  and  is  either  really  believed 
by  the  breeder  or  is  just  elicited  to  satisfy  the  curiosity  of  an  impor- 
tune inquirer.  This  explanation,  of  course,  is  absurd,  for  "the  young 
of  the  wild  species  are  assiduously  fed  and  cared  for  by  the  parents" 
(Sowerby) ;  and  how  with  this  alleged  lack  of  maternal  affection  could 
the  species  have  spread  over  the  entire  world?  The  female  kept 
in  captivity  lacks  her  nest  in  high  trees  and  the  natural  conditions 
of  her  life,  and  this  rather  is  the  reason  why  she  declines  to  incubate 
the  eggs.  Moreover,  experience  has  taught  the  breeders  that  safer 
and  faster  results  are  attained  from  hens  than  from  female  cormorants. 

The  fledglings  come  out  of  the  egg  after  a  month's  incubation. 
They  cannot  stand  on  their  legs,  and  are  very  sensitive  to  cold. 
They  are  transferred  to  cotton-stuffed  baskets  which  are  kept  in  a 
warm  room.  The  young  birds  are  enveloped  in  cotton  wool  and  fed 
with  small  morsels  of  bean-curd  (tou-fu)  and  pellets  of  raw  fish, 
preferably  eel,  if  procurable.  Cormorants  are  inordinately  fond  of 
eels  and  prefer  them  to  all  other  fish;  where  eels  are  plentiful  they 
will  even  catch  nothing  else.  Fortune  was  given  the  information 
that  for  five  days  the  young  are  fed  with  eels'  blood  and  that  after 
five  days  they  can  be  fed  with  eels'  flesh  chopped  fine.  Dabry  de 
Thiersant  denies  that  this  is  done  in  the  central  provinces,  and 
states  that  during  seven  days  the  young  receive  three  times  a  day 
finely  minced  meat  which  they  prefer  to  any  other  food;  afterwards 
small  fish  are  added  to  the  meat.    There  is  no  doubt  that  in  matters 

The  Process  of  Domestication  239 

of  feeding  and  training  a  good  many  local  variations  exist.  Lean 
and  weak  birds  are  fed  on  dogs'  flesh  ( Ning-hua  Men  chi  3£  it  f&  iS, 
chap.  2,  p.  128).  "After  the  tenth  month  the  cormorants  are  given 
dog's  flesh  which  will  keep  their  bodies  warm  and  protect  them  from 
the  cold ;  even  when  breaking  through  the  ice  and  plunging  into  the 
water,  they  will  not  die  from  a  chill"  (Pen  ts'ao  kang  mu  shi  i, 
chap.  9,  p.  7b). 

Under  the  heading  "Method  of  rearing  cormorants,"  Fang  I-chi 
3;  Jsi  H?,  in  his  Wu  li  siao  shi  fyt}  M  4*  M,  (chap.  10,  p.  5),  gives  the 
following  brief  notes:  "For  a  period  of  six  months  the  (young) 
cormorants  are  susceptible  to  cold.  Their  keepers  wrap  them  in 
refuse  cotton  and  feed  them  with  pepper.  In  autumn  and  winter 
the  birds  are  turned  loose  into  the  water  to  catch  fish.  Those  incu- 
bated in  the  summer  are  so  strong  that  they  can  peck  up  the  eye- 
balls of  large  fish."  If  pepper  is  given  the  young  birds,  it  must  be 
mixed,  of  course,  with  some  food,  which  Fang  I-chi  forgets  to  men- 
tion, and  may  act  as  a  sort  of  tonic. 

At  the  end  of  a  month  feathers  begin  to  cover  the  down,  and  the 
quantity  of  fish  is  increased  for  their  diet,  while  the  proportion  of 
bean-curd  is  reduced.  After  the  second  month  the  birds  have  doubled 
their  size,  and  are  fit  for  the  market,  a  female  being  half  as  much 
in  price  as  a  male.  This  difference  in  price  is  due  to  the  superior 
strength  of  the  male  who  is  able  to  capture  larger  fish. 

When  the  nursery  days  are  over,  the  schooling  of  the  birds  begins 
at  once,  and  they  are  turned  over  to  a  professional  trainer.  Their 
wings  are  clipped  to  prevent  their  flying  away.  The  first  lesson  is 
as  follows.  A  string  is  tied  to  one  of  the  bird's  legs,  the  other  end 
of  the  string  being  fastened  to  a  stake  set  in  the  bank  of  the  pond 
or  canal.  The  bird  is  driven  into  the  water,  the  trainer  whistling 
a  peculiar  call  and,  if  necessary,  enforcing  obedience  by  the  persua- 
sive strokes  of  a  bamboo,  the  great  educational  means  of  China. 
Small  live  fish  are  thrown  to  the  bird  who  will  pounce  upon  them 
greedily,  as  he  was  previously  kept  on  a  reduced  diet.  He.  is  now 
called  back  by  a  different  whistle  signal  and,  to  make  him  under- 
stand, is  first  pulled  back  by  means  of  the  string  or  line  until  he 
has  learned  to  comprehend  the  call  and  to  obey  it  spontaneously. 
This  procedure  is  repeated  daily  for  about  a  month  till  the  bird  is 
accustomed  to  his  master's  voice  and  commands. 

The  second  lesson  is  given  in  a  boat  along  the  same  line  as  previ- 
ously, and  lasts  four  or  five  weeks  according  to  the  bird's  intelligence. 

When  the  young  birds  are  accompanied  by  older  well-trained 
birds,  which  is  usually  done,  the  time  of  instruction  is  shortened 

240  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

considerably,  as  they  will  quickly  learn  from  their  elders.  At  the 
end  of  this  period  they  are  relieved  of  the  leash  or  line.  Birds  not 
properly  trained  by  that  time  are  regarded  as  stupid  and  hopeless. 
A  period  of  seven  or  eight  months  may  be  considered  sufficient  to 
turn  him  into  an  expert  fisher. 

There  is  a  good  deal  of  individual  character  in  the  birds.  Some 
are  intelligent,  alive,  and  alert;  others  are  dull,  lazy,  and  sulky. 
Some  are  more  expert  at  diving  and  catching  than  others.  European 
writers  have  described  the  cormorant  as  "solemn,  weird,  uncanny"; 
but  such  words  are  elicited  by  impressions  of  our  mind,  and  are 
not  objective  characteristics  of  the  bird.  What  is  more  important 
is  that  each  bird  possesses  enough  individual  characteristics  to  enable 
his  master  to  recognize  him  among  a  flock  of  other  birds  working 
in  the  water;  and  vice  versa,  the  birds  are  endowed  with  sufficient 
intelligence  to  know  their  master  and  their  boat;  they  always  occupy 
the  same  place  assigned  to  them  in  the  boat.  Many  fishermen  name 
their  birds,  and  will  always  call  them  by  their  names. 

"These  birds  differ  much  in  their  tempers,  some  being  most  spite- 
ful and  savage,  as  well  as  shy  and  disobedient  in  the  field,  whilst 
others  are  just  the  reverse.  They  are  very  sagacious,  knowing  the 
places  where  they  have  caught  fish  and  are  likely  to  meet  with  them 
again,  etc.  They  are  also  capable  of  great  affection.  Honest  'Isaac 
Walton'  was  particularly  fond  of  his  master  and,  singularly  enough, 
he  would  not  allow  any  one  else  to  approach  without  showing  fight. 
When  angry,  the  cry  somewhat  resembles  the  gobble  of  a  turkey, 
and  when  pleased,  it  is  a  loud  guttural  sound,  like  'haw,  haw!'  " 
(Freeman  and  Salvin,  Falconry,  p.  331). 

The  domesticated  cormorants  of  China  live  in  basket-like  cages, 
or  in  the  summer  are  also  left  in  the  open  where  they  are  tied  to  their 
perches  by  means  of  a  leather  thong  fastened  to  one  of  their  legs. 

The  fisherman  who  uses  the  birds  is  not  necessarily  the  breeder. 
There  are  special  establishments  which  make  it  their  business  to 
breed  the  birds  and  to  sell  them  or  lease  them  to  the  fishermen. 
Fortune  mentions  such  a  large  establishment,  which  he  visited 
in  1848,  thirty  or  forty  miles  from  Shanghai  and  between  that  town 
and  Chapu,  where  a  pair  was  then  sold  at  from  six  to  eight  dollars. 
The  tenants  usually  repay  the  owner  of  the  birds  with  a  certain 
quantity  of  fish.  Under  this  system  the  birds  are  worked  as  hard 
as  possible,  for  the  fisherman's  sole  interest  is  in  catching  as  large 
a  booty  as  possible  in  order  to  gain  a  surplus  for  himself  in  excess 
to  what  he  owes  to  his  landlord.  Under  these  circumstances  the 
friendly  and  sympathetic  relations  that  exist  between  man  and  his 

The  Process  of  Domestication  241 

domestic  animals  must  be  completely  lost.  The  wholesale  breeding 
of  birds,  however,  has  one  advantage  that  they  can  be  distributed 
and  sold  in  the  entire  country. 

The  earlier  writers  on  China  represented  cormorant  fishing  as  a 
sort  of  royal  monopoly.  R.  Willes  (see  p.  245)  has  a  fantastic 
account  of  the  king  of  China  possessing  a  good  store  of  barges  full 
of  sea-crows  allowed  a  monthly  provision  of  rice;  these  barges  the 
king  bestows  upon  his  greatest  magistrates.  Juan  Gonzalez  de 
Mendoza  has  a  similar  story,  and  Nieuhoff  has  the  fishermen  pay 
an  annual  tax  to  the  emperor  for  the  use  of  the  birds.  With  reference 
to  Lord  Macartney,  who  stated  that  exorbitant  taxes  had  to  be  paid 
to  the  emperor  for  the  permission  to  use  cormorants,  Fauvel  remarks 
that  he  never  heard  of  such  in  Che-kiang  and  that  they  probably 
existed  nowhere  in  his  time.  Of  course,  the  cormorant  fishermen, 
like  every  one  else,  paid  an  annual  tax,  but  these  taxes  never  were 
excessive,  nor  has  a  government  monopoly  on  cormorants  ever 
prevailed,  nor  has  the  government  to  all  appearances  ever  taken  an 
interest  in  the  whole  business.  It  is  known  to  every  one  who  was 
in  the  China  of  the  Manchu  dynasty  that  the  people  were  in  the 
habit  of  complaining  and  sobbing  to  foreign  visitors  about  high 
taxation,  oppression,  and  extortion,  while  in  fact  they  were  the  most 
lightly  taxed  people  in  the  world,  comparatively  speaking.  In 
Chinese  sources  I  have  found  nothing  alluding  to  a  cormorant  mono- 
poly or  special  taxation.    The  only  item  I  have  found  is  as  follows: 

In  the  Gazetteer  of  Ning-hua  ^  it  U  J&  (chap.  2,  p.  128),  in 
the  prefecture  of  T'ing-chou,  Fu-kien,  it  is  stated,  "At  present  the 
inhabitants  of  Yen  and  Kien  M  ft  A  (Yen-p'ing  fu  and  Kien-ning 
fu),  who  raise  these  birds,  pay  their  taxes  to  the  officials  in  rice  ffi 

#  ^  H\" 

Authors  like  Fortune  and  Fauvel  have  also  given  price  quotations 
for  the  birds,  which  can  hardly  claim  any  validity  at  present.  I 
mention  only  that  the  Ning-hua  Men  chi  (chap.  2,  p.  128)  gives  the 
price  of  a  single  bird  as  ten  taels  (ounces  of  silver),  and  this  may 
be  regarded  as  an  average  value. 

Most  writers  who  have  described  cormorant  fishing,  although 
their  accounts  are  incomplete  and  deficient,  do  not  fail  to  mention 
the  ring  or  strap  around  the  bird's  neck,  and  do  not  get  tired  of 
repeating  the  worn-out  statement  that  this  is  done  to  prevent  him 
from  swallowing  the  fish  which  he  catches.  Friar  Odoric  (Yule, 
Cathay,  new  ed.,  II,  p.  190)  is  the  first  of  European  travelers  who 
noted  that  the  fisherman  tied  a  cord  round  the  birds'  necks  that 
they  might  not  be  able  to  swallow  the  fish  which  they  caught.    True 

242  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

it  is  Chinese  authors  make  the  same  statement.  Several  have  been 
quoted  to  this  effect  (p.  224) ,  and  another  may  be  added  here.  "Those 
who  raise  the  cormorant  tie  a  cord  around  its  neck,  so  that  small 
fishes  can  pass  its  throat,  while  big  fishes  can  not;  from  time  to  time 
the  fishermen  call  the  bird  and  take  the  fish  away  from  it;  and  then 
they  send  it  out  again"  (Yung-ch'un  chou  chi  ?K  ^  jNi  1&,  chap.  7, 
p.  22;  the  same  in  Ning-hua  Men  chi,  chap.  2,  p.  127;  both  localities 
are  in  Fu-kien). 

The  fact  itself  is  correct,  but  is  not  logically  expressed.  That 
the  cormorant  is  prevented  from  swallowing  a  large  fish  is  the  effect 
of  the  ring  or  strap,  but  not  the  cause  of  it,  which  is  quite  different. 
The  ring  is  the  symbol  of  the  cormorant's  bondage,  and  was  the 
original  expedient  that  brought  its  domestication  about.  It  takes 
the  place  of  the  dog's  neck-collar,  the  horse's  bit,  the  water-buffalo's 
nose-ring,  the  falcon's  leash  and  hood.  In  order  to  govern  and  keep 
a  cormorant,  man  required  some  means  of  grasping  and  holding  him, 
and  a  cord  of  hemp  slung  around  his  neck  and  terminating  in  a  line 
which  man  could  seize  was  the  means  he  devised.  Man's  first  thought 
in  training  the  bird  was  to  hold  him  in  check,  to  bridle  him,  to  direct 
him;  he  did  not  think,  at  first,  of  preventing  the  bird  from  swallowing 
large  fish;  this  resulted  as  a  secondary  effect  from  the  use  of  the  strap 
or  ring. 

The  ring  is  called  chuan  HI  (Ma-kia-hiang  t'ing  chi  $?  %.  #  M  &, 
chap.  12,  p.  11) ;  in  the  Sui  shu,  as  pointed  out  above  (p.  212),  hwan. 

Great  care  must  be  exercised  in  placing  the  cord  or  strap  around 
the  bird's  neck;  it  must  be  fastened  in  such  a  way  that  it  will  not 
slip  farther  down  upon  his  neck,  as  this  would  be  apt  to  choke  him. 

Different  materials  are  used  for  the  ring  in  various  localities; 
straw,  hemp,  bast,  tow,  bamboo  (Kwang-tung),  rattan,  and  even 
iron  (Maffei  and  Nieuhoff)  are  reported.  The  use  of  iron  is  unneces- 
sary, even  foolish,  as  its  weight  will  hamper  the  bird's  free  movements. 

That  the  neck-collar  is  merely  a  stepping-stone  in  the  gradual 
development  of  the  domestication  becomes  clear  from  the  fact  that 
in  the  last  and  highest  stage  of  development  the  neck-collar  is  simply 
discarded,  especially  in  Che-kiang.  At  this  stage  of  the  game  the 
birds  are  disciplined  to  such  a  degree  of  perfection  that  they  fish 
in  unrestrained  and  absolute  freedom.  A  well-trained  cormorant, 
while  on  duty,  will  not  swallow  any  fish  whether  large  or  small; 
he  knows  his  business  and  his  lord. 

G.  Staunton  (Account  of  an  Embassy  to  the  Emperor  of  China, 
1797,  II,  p.  388),  for  instance,  reports  that  "the  birds  appeared  to 
be  so  well  trained,  that  it  did  not  require  either  ring  or  cord  about 

The  Process  of  Domestication  243 

their  throats  to  prevent  them  from  swallowing  any  portion  of  their 
prey."  His  observations  were  made  on  the  Imperial  Canal  near 
Hang-chou.  Milne  (Life  in  China,  1857,  p.  307)  writes  that  he 
could  find  neither  ring  nor  cord  about  the  necks  of  any  of  them 
to  prevent  the  swallowing  of  fish. 

De  Guignes  (Voyages  a  Peking,  I,  pp.  271,  289)  states  expressly 
that  in  Kwang-tung  Province,  where  he  noticed  cormorant  fishing 
in  three  different  places  (in  1794),  the  birds  were  free  and  appeared 
well  tamed;  "they  did  not  have,  as  P.  du  Halde  says,  a  collar  around 
their  necks." 

What  Friar  Odoric  describes  (Yule,  Cathay,  II,  p.  190)  is  also  a 
free  method  of  fishing  which  indicates  a  highly  developed  stage  in  the 
evolution  of  domestication,  though  of  a  somewhat  lower  degree  than 
the  preceding  one.  The  water-fowl  were  let  loose  without  being 
driven,  and  straightway  began  to  dive,  catching  great  numbers  of 
fish  and  putting  these  of  their  own  accord  into  the  baskets,  so  that 
before  long  all  the  three  baskets  were  full.  Of  course,  as  mentioned 
previously,  Odoric's  birds  were  equipped  with  the  neck-strap;  and 
when  their  task  was  finished,  they  were  tied  to  perches  in  the  boat. 

In  some  parts  of  the  country  the  fishermen  haul  the  bird  with  his 
catch  out  of  the  water  in  a  dip-net,  and  methods  of  managing  the 
bird  vary  according  to  locality.  For  instance,  at  Tsi-ning  chou  and 
probably  in  other  places  too,  the  fisherman  who  commands  a  flock  of 
ten  or  twelve  birds  will  not  rush  all  of  them  into  the  water  at  once, 
but  will  allow  only  one  or  two  of  them  to  dive  at  a  time;  and  when  he 
perceives  that  they  are  fatigued,  he  will  take  them  in  and  feed  them 
and  then  dispatch  another  pair  into  the  water.  This  humane  method 
has  the  advantage  that  it  will  give  the  poor  workers  a  good  chance 
for  rest.  On  the  Min  River  in  Se-ch'wan  cormorants,  after  diving, 
are  brought  up  to  the  surface  in  baskets  of  much  the  same  shape  as 
the  birds  (E.  G.  Kemp,  The  Face  of  China,  1909,  p.  180). 

Some  of  these  varying  practices,  particularly  those  bearing  on 
minor  details,  may  simply  be  due  to  local  variations  of  custom;  but 
in  the  main,  the  basic  differences  are  an  index  of  the  various  stages 
through  which  the  development  of  the  domestication  has  run.  It 
is  clear  that  the  more  the  bird's  movements  are  restricted,  the  more 
restraint  is  imposed  upon  him,  the  older  this  stage  of  development 
must  be.  It  was  gradually  recognized  that  the  laws  deemed  necessary 
for  his  enslavement  need  not  be  too  rigidly  enforced,  that  the  creature 
was  attached  to  his  master  and  would  not  forsake  him,  that  barriers 
could  be  slowly  removed  and  a  greater  amount  of  liberty  be  restored 
to  him.     In  this  point  the  Chinese  have  manifested  admirable 

244  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

wisdom,  and  have  advanced  far  beyond  the  Japanese.  This  indeed 
is  the  goal  for  which  all  cormorant  domestication  must  strive — 
granting  the  bird  a  maximum  degree  of  freedom.  This  makes  a 
happy  cormorant  and  a  more  successful  and  therefore  happier 

Another  implement  indispensable  to  the  cormorant  trainer  and 
fisherman  is  a  long  bamboo  pole,  which  serves  a  twofold  purpose — 
propelling  the  raft  or  boat  tenanted  by  the  fisherman  with  the  heavier 
end  of  the  pole  and  directing  and  controlling  the  movements  of  the 
birds  with  the  other.  He  uses  the  pole  as  the  conductor  of  an  orches- 
tra does  his  baton.  When  the  theatre  of  action  is  reached,  he  signals 
to  the  birds  to  dive  by  beating  the  water  with  the  pole.  When  a 
bird  fails  to  attend  to  his  business,  a  blow  of  the  bamboo  on  the  water 
near  where  the  bird  floats  accompanied  by  an  angry  shouting,  is 
sufficient  to  remind  him  of  his  duty.  Whenever  a  bird  gets  tired,  or 
when  his  gullet  is  filled  with  rich  booty,  the  pole  is  stretched  forth  so 
that  he  may  jump  and  perch  on  it,  and  be  lifted  into  the  boat.  On 
the  same  bamboo  pole  the  birds  are  carried  from  their  home  to  the 
water's  edge  and  back  home  when  their  task  is  done  (compare 
Plate  XIII). 

The  methods  of  fishing  with  cormorants  have  frequently  been 
described  and  are  beyond  the  scope  of  this  study  which  is  concerned 
with  the  cormorant  as  a  domestication;  but  I  wish  to  mention  one 
point,  as  it  has  not  been  brought  out  by  previous  authors.  There  are 
two  principal  methods  of  fishing — the  solitary  one  and  the  method 
of  group  fishing.  A  man  single-handed,  especially  on  a  raft,  is  able 
to  manage  three  or  four  cormorants  and  to  attend  to  the  whole 
business  (see  Plates  XV-XVI);  a  variation  of  this  is  duet  fishing 
when  two  men  join  in  dividing  labors,  one  steering  and  propelling 
the  boat,  the  other  tending  the  birds  and  the  fish  caught  by  them. 
Rafts  are  chiefly  used  in  the  southern  provinces.  Boats  are  either 
single,  or  two  of  them  are  placed  side  by  side  and  connected  by  a 
plank;  the  latter  are  more  stable  (illustration  in  Korrigan,  p.  42). 
The  raft  owners  usually  operate  with  from  two  to  four  birds;  the  boat 
masters,  with  ten  or  twelve.  In  group  fishing  a  fishermen's  gild 
or  association  gets  together  and  makes  common  cause.  A  fleet  of 
small  boats  moves  into  action  and  spreads  out  in  a  line  or  crescent 
formation,  setting  the  frightened  fish  moving  and  driving  the  birds 
in  front.  As  each  fisherman  knows  his  own  birds  and  as  each  bird 
knows  his  boat  and  his  place  on  it,  everything  proceeds  in  orderly 
fashion.  The  concerted  action  in  this  manoeuvring  naturally  insures 
a  larger  haul  of  fish.    The  solitary  method  assuredly  is  older  than  the 

The  Process  of  Domestication  245 

group  or  community  method,  and  is  the  one  pointed  out  in  our  earliest 
Chinese  source,  the  Ts'ing  i  lu,  which  advisedly  refers  to  "a  single 
man"  (above,  p.  221).  The  first  mention  of  community  fishing 
occurs  in  R.  Willes'  Reports  of  the  Province  of  China  (about  1565), 
based  on  the  data  of  Portuguese,  chiefly  Galeotto  Pereira  (Hakluyt, 
Glasgow  ed.,  II,  p.  327).  Here  it  is  said  (I  modernize  the  old  English 
spelling),  "At  the  hour  appointed  to  fish,  all  the  barges  are  brought 
together  in  a  circle,  where  the  river  is  shallow,  and  the  crows  tied 
together  under  the  wings  are  let  leap  down  into  the  water,  some 
under,  some  above,  worth  looking  upon;  each  one  as  he  has  filled  his 
bag,  goes  to  his  own  barge  and  empties  it,  which  done  he  returns  to 
fish  again.  .  .  .  There  were  in  that  city  where  I  was,  twenty  barges 
at  the  least  of  these  aforesaid  crows." 

From  what  has  been  said  about  the  present-day  training  of 
cormorants,  it  is  not  difficult  to  imagine  what  the  steps  in  the  primeval 
process  of  the  domestication  have  been  during  the  tenth  century.  A 
wild  young  cormorant  was  ensnared,  and  the  Chinese  have  always 
been  skilful  bird-catchers.  A  cage  with  a  perch,  a  cord  and  a  leash 
or  line,  a  bamboo  pole  were  all  the  paraphernalia  required.  A  noose 
was  tied  around  the  bird's  neck,  and  along  a  line  he  was  immediately 
dispatched  into  the  water.  The  first  man  who  did  it  merits  greater 
admiration  for  the  originality  of  his  idea  than  for  what  he  accom- 
plished, while  the  bird  as  the  natural  fish-hunter  is  deserving  of 
greater  credit  for  the  achievement.  At  the  outset  it  is  difficult  to 
realize  what  keeps  the  enslaved  cormorant  in  bondage,  or  why  he 
continues  hard  labor  for  an  employer  who  has  so  little  to  offer  him 
in  return.  The  service  of  domesticated  animals  is  based  on  a  silent 
pact  which  gives  them  advantages  not  enjoyed  by  their  wild  con- 
geners: proper  shelter,  protection  from  rapacious  enemies,  adequate 
food,  and  assurance  of  a  constant  and  regular  food  supply.  The 
cormorant  to  some  extent  suffers  from  what  the  modern  Chinese 
would  call  an  "unequal  treaty."  He  is  hardly  fed  by  man,  but  looks 
out  for  his  own  meals,  catching  his  own  fish.  In  some  parts  of  China 
he  is  given  a  morsel  to  eat  after  every  catch,  and  some  fishermen  even 
feed  their  birds  with  their  own  hands,  stroking  their  necks  to  facilitate 
the  downward  movement  of  the  food,  which  the  birds  are  said  to 
like  very  much.  They  are  also  fed  with  morsels  of  bean-curd,  but 
this  alone  can  hardly  be  a  sufficient  attraction  for  the  bird  to  remain 
in  his  state  of  socage.  He  has  no  natural  enemies,  as  chickens  and 
pigeons  have,  from  whom  he  would  need  protection.  His  quarters 
are  by  no  means  palatial  or  sumptuous,  and  there  is  but  little  senti- 
mentality in  a  fisherman's  heart.    Even  granted  that  he  treats  his 

246  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

birds  well  in  his  own  interest,  the  cormorant's  psychology  is  not 
perfectly  clear  and  requires  further  elucidation.  I  have  never  heard 
of  a  cormorant  attempting  to  break  loose  in  order  to  gain  his  liberty, 
and  with  his  wings  clipped  and  his  spirit  broken  it  is  questionable 
how  far  he  would  get;  probably  he  would  be  pursued  and  soon 
captured  by  his  owner.  Born  and  raised  in  captivity,  he  is  ignorant 
of  the  sweetness  of  liberty  and  looks  upon  slavery  as  his  natural  lot. 

While  the  domestication  of  the  cormorant  has  passed  through 
several  successive  stages  and  has  improved  by  degrees,  it  is  not 
necessary  to  imagine  that  the  primeval  or  initiatory  process  was  a 
superhuman  task  which  required  a  long  span  of  time.  I  have  there- 
fore suggested  that  in  accordance  with  the  present  state  of  our 
knowledge  the  beginnings  of  the  domestication  in  China  should  not 
be  dated  farther  back  than  the  tenth  century  A.D. 

In  its  natural  state  the  cormorant  is  said  to  live  twenty  to 
twenty-five  years.  It  is  an  interesting  fact  that  in  Japan  the  cap- 
tured and  trained  birds  reach  a  much  higher  age  than  the  domesti- 
cated ones  of  China.  According  to  Ikenoya,  the  Japanese  birds  will 
live  to  the  age  of  twelve.  Palmer,  as  quoted  by  Chamberlain, 
estimates  that  they  work  well  up  to  fifteen,  often  up  to  nineteen  or 
twenty  years  of  age.  According  to  Kuroda,  birds  from  four  to  eight 
years  old  are  the  best;  beyond  this  age  they  begin  to  slow  down  in 
their  work,  but  they  can  be  employed  up  to  about  fifteen  years  of  age. 

According  to  Jametel,  the  cormorants  of  China  begin  to  lose  their 
plumage  from  their  fourth  year,  and  they  usually  die  before  reaching 
the  age  of  six  years.  Fauvel  (p.  233)  states  that  a  good  cormorant 
can  serve  during  five  years,  but  at  the  lapse  of  this  period  begins  to 
lose  its  feathers  and  will  die  soon.  Dabry  de  Thiersant,  however,  was 
informed  that  the  birds  are  serviceable  up  to  the  age  of  ten  years. 
Whatever  the  exact  facts  on  either  side  may  be,  there  is  no  doubt 
that  the  average  is  much  higher  in  Japan  than  in  China.  And  the 
reason  for  this  is  not  far  to  seek.  The  Japanese  birds  are  kept  busy 
only  a  five  months'  season  and  rest  during  the  winter,  while  the 
Chinese  birds  are  worked  and  overworked  the  whole  year  round, 
except  during  extreme  frost  in  the  winter.  The  Chinese  have  not 
yet  learned  that  domestic  animals  also  need  a  vacation  and  time  for 
rest  and  play  and  that  this  concession  will  prolong  their  lives  and 
intensify  their  ability  to  work.  There  is  no  doubt  also  that  the 
Japanese  treat  and  nurse  their  birds  better  than  the  Chinese.  In  the 
summer,  the  cormorant  quarters  in  Japan  are  even  surrounded  with 
mosquito  nets.  Lack  of  cleanliness  in  their  cages  must  necessarily 
breed  disease  and  doom  many  birds  in  China  to  a  premature  death. 

The  Process  of  Domestication  247 

But  aside  from  this,  the  Chinese  method  of  domestication  is 
infinitely  superior  and  preferable  to  the  Japanese  method  of  catching 
young  birds  and  training  them.  They  are  caught  on  their  roosting 
places  around  Shinoshima  in  the  province  of  Owari.  Their  wings  are 
clipped,  and  they  are  sent  blindfolded  to  Gifu.  At  first  they  are 
very  vicious,  and  are  kept  tied  up.  They  are  daily  taken  out  at 
noon,  under  the  leash,  on  the  river  and  allowed  to  dive,  catch,  and 
swallow  from  one  to  two  pounds  of  fish.  After  about  fifteen  days 
they  are  taught  to  catch  and  disgorge  fish. 

At  Gifu  a  cord  is  attached  to  the  bird's  foot  and  passes  under  its 
belly  up  to  its  neck  where  it  connects  with  the  ring.  Twelve  birds 
form  a  team,  and  their  cords  are  fastened  to  a  single  line  directed  by 
one  master.  In  this  manner  the  cormorants  are  kept  close  to  the 
boat  and  hampered  in  their  free  movements.  Pichot  (p.  32),  in 
criticizing  this  method,  remarks  that  the  true  sport  consists  in  having 
the  cormorant  work  with  liberty  without  any  other  means  of  restraint 
than  the  leather  ring  around  his  neck.  I  would  go  a  step  farther 
and  say  that,  as  demonstrated  by  the  example  of  Chinese  fishermen, 
even  the  ring  can  be  dispensed  with  and  that  a  well-trained  cor- 
morant may  be  given  the  "freedom  of  the  seas."  It  might  be  advis- 
able for  the  Japanese  to  send  a  commission  of  experts  to  China  for  a 
thorough  study  of  the  Chinese  system  of  cormorant  breeding  with  a 
view  to  apply  it  at  home,  or  at  least  to  improve  the  domestic  system. 
On  the  other  hand,  I  am  sure,  Japanese  cormorant  experts  could 
teach  the  Chinese  a  great  deal  in  the  proper  care  of  their  birds. 

The  complex  and  cumbrous  apparatus  set  in  motion  by  the 
Japanese  is  unconsciously  inspired  by  the  fear  lest  the  captured  bird 
might  escape,  and  he  is  fettered  and  closely  watched  every  minute. 
Too  much  unnecessary  fuss  is  made  about  the  whole  business,  and 
too  many  fads  and  frills  are  connected  with  it.  In  the  fishing  method 
followed  by  the  Japanese  the  birds  are  unnecessarily  excited,  and 
their  agitation  when  in  the  water  is  increased  by  the  burning  sparks 
which  fall  into  the  water  from  the  braziers  or  cressets  on  the  boat 
intended  to  illuminate  the  nightly  scene.  The  weird  light  of  lanterns, 
the  noise  from  music  and  songs  on  the  boats  of  the  pleasure-seekers 
make  the  birds  still  more  nervous. 

The  Japanese  procedure  in  fishing  with  harnessed  cormorant 
teams  has  the  one  advantage  that  the  keeper  has  absolute  control 
over  each  member  of  his  team  and  can  pull  him  out  of  the  water 
from  his  particular  line  instantaneously  he  has  caught  some  fish. 
The  Chinaman  may  lose  some  time  in  giving  commands  or  repri- 
manding or  punishing  lazy  or  recalcitrant  birds,  but  he  is  more 

248  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

humane  and  more  sportsmanlike  in  allowing  his  birds  some  freedom 
of  action;  and  freedom,  after  all,  is  what  makes  good  sport.  The 
Japanese  method,  although  in  its  outward  appearance  a  sport,  is, 
in  fact,  not  a  sport,  at  least  so  at  the  present  time.  I  am  inclined 
to  think  that  it  was  different  in  ancient  and  mediaeval  Japan  when 
the  cormorant  was  still  regarded  as  a  sacred  bird.  It  was  this 
sacred,  mythological  character  of  the  bird  which  prompted  the 
ancient  Japanese  to  keep  it  in  captivity,  and,  I  am  disposed  to 
believe,  to  domesticate  it,  although  I  cannot  produce  any  docu- 
mentary evidence  to  this  effect.  In  the  modern  Japanese  and 
European  sources  I  have  been  able  to  consult  nothing  is  said  about 
the  birds  propagating  in  captivity  or  the  breeding  of  birds  born  in 
captivity;  I  should  be  very  grateful  for  any  information  on  this  point, 
as  it  is  an  important  matter  for  the  history  of  domestications. 

In  opposition  to  Japan  cormorant  fishing  in  China  is  carried  on 
during  the  day.  This  is  reported  alike  by  all  observers.  Sowerby 
(p.  73),  however,  asserts  that  "sometimes  and  in  some  parts  of  China 
the  fishing  is  done  at  night,  when  great  flares  are  carried  on  the 
boats,  which  serve  to  attract  the  fish  and  also  to  help  the  birds  to 
see  them."  It  would  be  interesting  to  have  more  specific  information 
on  this  point,  especially  as  to  the  localities  where  it  is  done  and  as  to 
the  methods  applied. 

In  Japan,  in  opposition  to  China,  cormorant  fishing  is  usually 
carried  on  during  the  night.  In  China  it  is  an  industry  from  which 
fishermen  gain  a  livelihood,  while  in  Japan  it  has  rather  the  character 
of  a  sport  connected  with  pleasure  parties  and  spectacular  festivals 
for  the  entertainment  of  illustrious  visitors  and  ordinary  sightseers. 
This,  however,  to  all  appearances,  is  a  modern  development  which 
does  not  hold  good  for  ancient  and  mediaeval  Japan.  This  recent 
sporting  tendency  may  be  largely  due  to  two  imperial  visits  at  Gifu 
in  1878  and  1880. 

Where  cormorant  fishing  is  a  commercial  enterprise  in  Japan,  it  is 
also  carried  on  in  daytime  only,  in  one  locality  both  night  and  day. 

Another  difference  between  China  and  Japan  is  that  Japanese 
cormorant  fishing  is  practically  restricted  to  the  ayu  (above,  p.  213), 
while  the  Chinese  without  discrimination  take  any  fish  the  cormorant 
is  able  to  hunt. 



A  question  that  remains  to  be  answered  is  whether  there  is  any 
relation  between  otter  fishing,  as  still  practised  in  the  upper  Yangtse 
Basin,  and  cormorant  fishing.  It  would  seem  so  at  the  surface, 
judging  from  a  remark  of  Sung  K'i  5fc  1(5  (a.d.  998-1061),  who  in  his 
Pi  ki  ^  fil  (known  as  5fc  /!;  3C  &  ^E  Id)  makes  a  certain  Wang 
Tse-huan  3:  -J-  £.7  say  that  he  saw  with  his  own  eyes  at  Yung-chou 
(in  Hu-nan)  tame  otters  kept  for  fishing  in  the  place  of  (or,  as 
substitutes  for)  cormorants  &  W  #  HI  &  \X  &  %  &  Tfc  tft  & 
and  that  these  daily  caught  about  ten  catties  of  fish,  enough  to 
supply  the  want  of  a  family.  Wang  Tse-huan  was  apparently 
familiar  with  cormorant  fishing,  while  the  sight  of  otter  fishing  was  a 
novel  experience  to  him.  It  cannot  be  said,  however,  with  any  regard 
to  historical  truth  that  the  otter  replaced  the  cormorant  in  certain 
parts  of  the  country;  for  otter  fishing  was  practised  at  an  earlier  date 
than  cormorant  fishing  and  was  known  under  the  T'ang.  Translations 
of  two  passages  to  this  effect  from  T'ang  authors  were  transmitted 
by  me  to  Dr.  Gudger,  who  published  them  in  his  article  Fishing  with 
the  Otter  (pp.  198-199).  As  cormorant  fishing  was  in  all  probability 
inaugurated  in  the  Lower  Yangtse  Valley  in  the  beginning  of  the 
tenth  century,  the  two  events  are  distinct  as  to  space  and  time,  and 
it  is  hardly  necessary  to  assume  an  interrelation  of  the  two.  It 
may  be,  of  course,  that  news  of  otter  fishing  on  the  upper  Yangtse 
reached  fishermen  in  the  lower  course  of  the  river  and  might  have 
suggested  to  them  a  similar  idea  which  may  have  set  them  to  think- 
ing about  the  cormorant.  For  the  rest,  the  two  events  are  entirely 
different.  The  cormorant  was  gradually  brought  into  a  state  of 
domestication,  while  the  otter  could  merely  be  tamed,  and  has 
always  remained  in  the  feral  state. 

The  egret  (lu  Ht,  Ardea  egretta)  was  also  kept  in  captivity,  although 
it  is  not  stated  for  which  purpose.  The  earliest  notice  to  this  effect 
I  have  been  able  to  find  occurs  in  the  Mao  shi  ts'ao  mu  niao  shou 
ch'ung  yiisu^t%^^M>%ktik1&ifc  (chap.  B,  p.  4b,  ed.  of  T'ang 
Sung  ts'ung  shu),  where  it  is  said,  "At  present  the  people  of  Wu  also 
raise  egrets"  (^  ^  A  Jf  #  ;£&).  The  authorship  of  this  work  is 
ascribed  to  Lu  Ki  &£  Wt  (a.d.  260  or  261-303),  although  my  edition 
of  the  T'ang  Sung  ts'ung  shu  makes  him  "T'ang";  but  as  Legge 


250  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

(Classics,  IV,  p.  178)  says  that  "the  original  work  was  lost  and  that 
now  current  was  compiled,  it  is  not  known  when  or  by  whom,  mainly 
from  K'ung  Ying-ta's  constant  quotation  from  it,"  it  is  difficult  to 
date  the  above  passage.  The  Wu  lei  siang  kan  chi  $3  M  +B  $L  Je?, 
ascribed  to  Su  Shi  (a.d.  1036-1101),  says  that  "the  heron  is  kept  by 
men  in  ponds  and  becomes  as  tame  as  domestic  fowl;  whenever  the 
day  Pai-lu  6  H-  (8th  of  September)  appears,  the  herons  fly  away 
and  are  gone."  This  evidently  refers  to  the  southward  migration 
of  the  birds.  The  same  information  is  given  in  the  P'i  ya  *$  9f£  by 
Lu  Tien  ^  fa  (a.d.  1042-1102),  who  writes  that  "the  people  of  the 
present  time  raise  white  herons  intensely  and  that  there  are  birds 
quite  tame  and  docile;  when  they  have  left  on  the  day  Pai-lu,  they 
cannot  be  kept  again."  The  Hwa  king  $L  H,  written  by  Ch'en 
Hao-tse  W.  W  -f  in  1688  (chap.  6,  p.  4b),  says  that  many  people  keep 
these  birds  in  ponds  and  pools. 

Li  Fang  ^  B#  (a.d.  924-995),  compiler  of  the  T'ai  p'ing  yu  Ian, 
is  said  to  have  raised  five  herons  whom  he  called  "cloud  guests" 
(yun  fco  if  3§P),  according  to  the  Ts'e  lin  hai  ts'o  M  $fc  #1  Ib. 

The  Gazetteer  of  Shao-hing  Bft  M>  #f  J&  (chap.  11,  p.  31)  gives 
the  following  information:  "The  egret  is  snow-white  in  color,  and 
on  its  crest  has  a  silk-like  bunch  over  a  foot  long;  when  the  bird 
desires  to  catch  fish,  it  droops  this  feather-bunch.  Many  people 
living  on  the  banks  of  rivers  north  of  the  mountains  keep  the  egret 
in  their  houses,  and  the  birds  become  so  tame  that  they  do  not  fly 
away;  only  during  the  day  Pai  Lu  3  E  (8th  of  September)  is  it 
necessary  to  cage  the  birds  for  the  entire  day  so  that  they  do  not 

If  this  information  be  correct  (and  it  should  be  verified  in  the 
locality),  egret  taming  may  bear  some  relation  to  cormorant  training. 
It  is  a  curious  coincidence  that  the  employment  of  the  heron  in  the 
service  of  man  begins  about  the  same  time  as,  or  a  little  earlier  than, 
cormorant  training,  but  it  seems  never  to  have  reached  a  great 
practical  importance. 


The  oldest  representation  of  a  cormorant  known  to  me  is  a 
carving  in  jade  of  the  Chou  period  in  Field  Museum,  Chicago. 
Illustrated  in  Laufer,  Archaic  Chinese  Jades,  1927,  plate  XXVI, 
fig.  7,  and  as  a  vignette  on  page  205  of  this  article. 

It  is  singular  that  cormorant  fishing  has  not  inspired  any  great 
Chinese  artist.  To  be  sure,  there  are  many  drawings  and  pictures 
of  the  subject  of  Ming  and  Ts'ing  periods,  but  all  these  are  mechanical 
productions  of  small  or  no  artistic  value.  I  feel  almost  confident 
in  saying  that  no  T'ang  or  Sung  artist  has  ever  painted  a  cormorant. 
The  Siian  ho  hwa  p'u  1[  ?B  :§£  fH  enumerates  many  pictures  of 
herons,  even  herons  engaged  in  fishing,  for  instance,  by  Hwang 
Ku-ts'ai,  but  not  a  single  cormorant  painting. 

Fishing  with  cormorants  is  depicted  in  a  Chinese  painting 
attributed  to  the  Ming  period  (weak  as  a  painting  and  teaching  but 
little  about  the  method  of  fishing),  reproduced  in  0.  Sir^n,  Chinese 
Paintings  in  American  Collections,  plate  138. 

A  finger-painting  by  Kao  K'i-p'ei,  representing  a  cormorant 
fisher,  is  in  the  possession  of  Mr.  Benjamin  March,  Detroit,  to  whom 
I  am  indebted  for  kindly  placing  at  my  disposal  a  photograph  of  it 
here  reproduced  in  Plate  XIV.  The  painting  (46  by  22  inches)  is  on 
paper,  in  black  ink  on  a  blue  background  wash  and  some  tan-orange 
in  the  foreground.  It  illustrates  well  the  method  of  solitary  fishing 
described  above  (p.  244).  The  bare-legged  fisherman  is  cautiously 
propelling  his  five-bamboo  raft  with  a  long  pole,  and  one  of  his  two 
cormorants  is  spying  the  water  for  fish.  The  picture  is  inscribed  in 
grass  characters  as  follows:  ^!S^B%tlf-H  ^E$t 
Htj  3£  1R  Ib  Jlfc,  i.e.  "Finger-play  (finger-painting)  of  Kao  K'i-p'ei 
of  T'ie-ling  (in  Fung-t'ien  fu,  Sheng-king,  Manchuria,  place  of 
his  birth),  done  on  the  day  before  the  first  full  moon  of  the  year 
(the  Feast  of  Lanterns)  of  the  year  i-se  of  the  K'ang-hi  period" 
(1665).  As  the  artist  died  in  1734,  he  must  have  been  very  young 
when  he  sketched  this  picture;  the  date  of  his  birth  seems  to  be 
unknown.  The  date  1665,  at  any  rate,  is  apt  to  rouse  suspicion, 
and  there  may  be  something  wrong  about  it  and  the  entire  legend; 
1725,  an  i-se  year,  would  be  more  probable,  but  this  falls  within  the 
Yung-cheng  period.  The  year  1665  is  separated  from  1734  by  69 
years;  presuming  that  in  1665  Kao  was  about  20  years  old,  he  must 
have  lived  to  the  age  of  89;  this  is  not  impossible,  but  it  is  harder  to 


252  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

believe  that  in  his  youth  he  should  have  done  this  picture  which  bears 
the  ear-marks  of  a  work  of  maturity.  Hirth  (Scraps,  p.  30)  remarks 
that  his  best  period  seems  to  fall  in  the  years  1700-15.  Field 
Museum  possesses  a  finger  ink-sketch  by  him,  representing  two 
hawks  fluttering  around  a  bare  tree-trunk  with  a  date  corresponding 
to  1685,  and  another,  undated,  representing  a  carp  swimming  up- 
stream and  stretching  its  head  out  of  the  water.  Both  pictures  are 
reproduced  in  Laufer,  History  of  the  Finger-print  System,  Smith- 
sonian Report  for  1912,  plates  5  and  6.  Kao  K'i-p'ei,  as  is  well 
known,  was  a  great  exponent  of  the  art  of  finger-painting,  and  was  a 
really  good  artist. 

The  woodcut  inserted  in  the  T'u  shu  tsi  ch'eng  (XIX,  chap.  45) 
shows  a  single  bird  perching  on  a  rocky  platform  and  overlooking 
the  water;  the  figure  is  fairly  exact,  except  the  beak,  the  upper 
mandible  of  which  is  but  slightly  curved  instead  of  terminating 
in  a  hook.  The  Pen  ts'ao  kang  mu  contains  an  engraving  of  a  cor- 
morant floating  downstream  with  a  small  fish  in  its  beak. 

The  San  ts'ai  t'u  hui  (1607,  sect.  Birds  and  Animals,  p.  18) 
illustrates  a  cormorant  on  the  bank  of  a  river,  a  rather  sorry  speci- 
men. The  figure  and  scene  are  very  similar  to  the  illustration  in  the 
Cheng  lei  pen  ts'ao  (above,  p.  224). 

Good  examples  of  Chinese  ink-drawings  of  cormorant  fishing  are 
reproduced  in  the  book  of  P.  Korrigan  (p.  38)  and  in  Gray's 
China,  II,  opp.  p.  297. 

G.  E.  Freeman  and  F.  H.  Salvin  (p.  328)  entertained  the  idea  that 
"this  ingenious  method  of  catching  fish  was  most  likely  invented  by 
the  Chinese,  and  must  be  of  very  great  antiquity,  if  we  may  judge  by 
the  representation  in  old  China  ware  and  other  Chinese  illustrations," 
to  which  is  added  in  a  foot-note,  "We  have  seen  cormorant  fishing 
represented  upon  some  ancient  china  cups  at  Leagram  Hall,  Lanca- 
shire, the  seat  of  J.  Weld,  Esq." 

On  a  white  porcelain  bowl  of  the  Yung-cheng  period  (1723-35), 
brought  from  China  by  Mr.  C.  T.  Yao  of  New  York  and  presented 
to  Field  Museum  by  the  American  Friends  of  China,  Chicago, 
various  scenes  in  the  occupations  of  fishermen  are  represented  in 
enamel  colors,  among  others  a  man  standing  in  a  boat  and  carrying 
on  his  shoulders  a  bamboo  pole  on  which  two  cormorants  perch 
(Plate  XIII). 

The  Ku  yil  t'u  p'u  (chap.  71,  p.  13)  illustrates  a  jade  spoon  or 
ladle  terminating  in  a  cormorant's  head  H  3£  K$  H  #?,  placed  in  a 
water  receptacle  in  the  shape  of  a  tazza;  evidently  made  in  allusion 

Iconography  253 

to  the  cormorant  wine-vessel  of  Li  Po  (see  Pien  tse  lei  pien, 
chap.  210,  p.  5,  or  Ts'e  yuan:  lu-ts'e).  A  curious  coincidence  is 
represented  by  a  spoon  of  the  Eastern  Dakota  Indians,  used  in  the 
feasts  of  the  Medicine  Lodge,  which  is  provided  with  a  handle  carved 
to  represent  a  cormorant's  head  (in  Field  Museum,  Cat.  No.  60411). 

I  do  not  enumerate  the  illustrations  of  cormorant  fishing  in 
China  contained  in  the  older  European  books,  as  these  are  reproduced 
by  Gudger  (I)  with  critical  annotations  and  as  in  this  age  of  photo- 
graphy they  have  but  little  scientific  value. 

The  National  Geographic  Magazine  of  June,  1927  (p.  704),  con- 
tains a  good  reproduction  of  an  excellent  photograph  of  a  cormorant 
fisher  taken  by  Dr.  Camillo  Schneider  in  western  Yun-nan. 

A  photograph  of  cormorant  fishing  on  the  Wei-ho  in  Shen-si  is 
reproduced  by  Clark  and  Sowerby  (plate  XX),  without  description; 
it  shows  a  single  fisherman  standing  astride  on  two  small  boats 
joined  together,  operating  with  three  birds. 

H.  Kraemer's  "Der  Mensch  und  die  Erde"  (X,  opp.  p.  288)  con- 
tains a  colored  plate  entitled  "Fishing  with  trained  cormorants  in 
China"  after  a  painting  by  F.  de  Haenen.  A  fisherman  is  shown  in  the 
act  of  removing  a  fish  from  the  bill  of  a  cormorant  which  has  just 
reached  the  edge  of  the  boat;  three  birds  are  swimming  in  the  water, 
and  a  confused  mass  of  ropes  is  visible.  The  picture  is  rather  fan- 
tastic than  instructive.  In  the  caption  accompanying  the  plate  it  is 
said  that  the  birds  dive  to  a  depth  of  50  meters  (!)  and  swim  under 
water  for  two  or  three  minutes  with  immense  velocity.  In  the  text 
which  purports  to  trace  the  development  of  fishing  all  over  the  world 
nothing  is  said  about  cormorant  fishing. 

Yukihide  Tosa  (fifteenth  century)  has  painted  in  colors  an  excel- 
lent scene  representing  cormorant  fishing;  a  man  in  the  boat  governs 
two  birds  with  strings  held  in  his  left  hand,  closely  watching  them; 
one  bird  is  shown  in  the  act  of  diving.  A  color  reproduction  of  this 
picture  is  in  Kokka,  IV,  No.  47,  plate  1. 

Korin  Ogata,  who  died  in  1716,  is  the  creator  of  a  masterly  picture 
in  ink  on  silk,  showing  an  old  fisherman  in  a  boat  with  torchlight, 
eagerly  watching  his  two  cormorants  in  the  water;  one  of  the  birds 
holds  an  ayu  in  its  beak.  The  picture  belongs  to  Baron  Iwasaki  of 
Tokyo,  and  is  reproduced  in  Kokka,  XXX,  No.  352,  1919,  plate  VI. 
It  is  said  there  that  the  theme  was  favorite  with  Korin  and  that  this 
work  belongs  to  his  best. 

Cormorant  fishing  at  night  in  the  Nagara  River  is  illustrated  in 
a  colored  print  by  Yeisen  said  to  be  "very  rare"  (reproduced  in 

254  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

Japanese  Color  Prints  of  Lindsay  Russell,  New  York,  1920,  p.  22). 
It  is  evidently  identical  with  No.  55  of  the  Sixty-nine  Stations  of  the 
Kisokaido  by  Hiroshige  and  Yeisen. 

A  tsuba  by  Hironaga  in  Field  Museum  shows  a  fisherman  with  a 
lighted  torch  in  the  water,  holding  the  ropes  attached  to  a  cormorant 
whose  bill  reaches  up  toward  a  fish  (H.  C.  Gunsaulus,  Japanese 
Sword-mounts,  plate  L,  fig.  1). 

Pichot's  book  illustrates  seven  boats  fishing  with  cormorants  in 
Lake  Gifu,  Japan;  a  lantern  made  in  the  same  place  and  painted 
with  cormorant  fishing-boats;  the  count  R.  de  Najac  holding  his 
cormorant  "Pole  Nord"  or  "Careme";  and  a  French  engraving  of  the 
eighteenth  century  showing  falconers  and  pecheurs  au  cormoran. 

"Fishing  with  cormorants  on  the  Nagara  River,  Gifu"  is  the 
subject  of  an  illustration  in  an  article  on  The  Fisheries  of  Japan  by 
Jihei  Hashiguchi  in  Far  Eastern  Review,  XIV,  1918,  p.  319. 

Dr.  Gudger's  article  (II)  contains  many  good  reproductions  of 
fine  photographs  representing  cormorant  fishing  in  Japan,  many  of 
these  having  been  supplied  by  the  Municipal  Office  of  Gifu. 


The  Chinese  folk-lore  of  the  cormorant  is  not  particularly  inter- 
esting, but  some  notions  entertained  regarding  the  bird  are  worthy 
of  mention.  It  is  an  old  popular  conception  first  pointed  out  by  the 
calligrapher  Wang  Hi-chi  3E  ^  2.  (a.d.  321-379)  and  by  T'ao  Hung- 
king  pSs|  %;  Jp:  (a.d.  452-536)  that  "this  bird  is  not  born  from  eggs, 
but  spits  its  fledglings  out  of  its  mouth."  Such  an  absurd  idea  could, 
of  course,  obtain  only  at  a  time  when  the  bird's  life  was  unknown, 
and  no  attempt  at  training  it  had  been  made.  Ch'en  Ts'ang-k'i, 
the  physician  of  the  K'ai-yiian  period  (a.d.  713-741),  writes  that 
"this  bird  is  viviparous  ftu  ^fe  and  brings  its  young  forth  from  its 
mouth  like  the  hare  vomits  its  offspring;  hence  women  at  the  time 
of  childbirth,  when  holding  this  bird,  will  have  an  easy  delivery." 
In  the  Yu  yang  tsa  tsu  (chap.  16,  p.  2)  it  is  said,  "The  hare  spits  its 
young  out,  the  cormorant  spits  its  fledglings  out." 

The  /  wu  chi  of  Yang  Fu  (T'ai  p'ing  yu  Ian,  chap.  925,  p.  8b), 
quoted  on  p.  221,  adds  to  this  superstition  that  the  number  of  young 
born  from  the  mouth  is  large,  at  least  seven  or  eight,  and  that  five 
or  six  are  connected  with  one  another  and  come  out  like  a  silk  thread. 
In  the  Buddhistic  dictionary  Yi  ts'ie  king  yin  i  the  number  of  young 
ones  brought  forth  from  the  mouth  at  one  birth  is  given  as  eight 
or  nine. 

A  parallel  to  the  notion  that  holding  a  cormorant  will  bring 
about  easy  delivery  occurs  in  ancient  Japan,  where  for  the  same 
purpose  a  cormorant  feather  was  grasped  in  the  hand  of  a  parturient 
woman  (Aston,  Nihongi,  I,  p.  98). 

K'ou  Tsung-shi  *£  *£  its,  in  his  Pen  ts'ao  yen  i^^ffi  w&  (chap.  16, 
p.  9,  ed.  of  Lu  Sin-yuan)  written  in  a.d.  1116,  gives  the  following 
account  of  the  cormorant:  "T'ao  Yin-ku  [T'ao  Hung-king  Pft  ^  ^:] 
asserts  that  this  bird  is  not  born  from  eggs,  but  vomits  the  fledglings 
out  of  its  mouth.  The  people  of  the  present  time  call  it  'old  water- 
duck.'  The  birds  nest  in  large  trees  where  they  flock  in  large  num- 
bers. The  trees  in  which  they  lodge  for  a  long  time  will  decay. 
Their  droppings  are  poisonous.  Pregnant  women  do  not  dare 
eat  this  bird  on  account  of  the  fledglings  being  vomited  out  of  its 
mouth.  Ch'en  Ts'ang-k'i,  on  the  other  hand,  states  that,  in  order 
to  insure  an  easy  childbirth,  one  should  let  a  woman,  when  her 
hour  approaches,  hold  a  bird.  While  T'ao  Siang-hi  served  as  an 
official  at  Li-chou  [in  Hu-nan],  there  was  a  large  tree  behind  the 


256  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

house  of  this  gentleman.  In  the  crown  of  this  tree  there  were  thirty 
or  forty  cormorant  nests,  where  at  evening  the  birds  could  be  observed 
in  the  act  of  mating.  Egg-shells  of  green  color  were  found  spread 
over  the  ground.  How  should  this  bird  then  obtain  its  young  by 
vomiting  them  forth  from  its  mouth!  Such  a  thing  has  never  been 
verified,  and  is  nothing  but  baseless  talk  of  the  people." 

This  is  one  of  the  rare  instances  where  a  superstition  is  refuted 
by  actual  observation.  S.  Wells  Williams  (Chinese  Repository,  VII, 
1839,  p.  542),  referring  to  this  belief,  asserts  that  "Li  Shi-chen  very 
wisely  puts  such  accounts  among  errata."  Li  Shi-chen,  however, 
does  not  make  any  comment  on  this  point;  the  criticism  in  question 
is  solely  due  to  K'ou  Tsung-shi. 

According  to  Wang  Hi-chi,  the  ordure  of  the  cormorant  is  white 
and  dispels  black  spots  on  the  face  (apparently  a  skin-disease). 
According  to  the  Fang  shu  jj  #,  evidently  a  book  of  medical  pre- 
scriptions, cormorant's  ordure  is  called  "water-flower  of  Shu"  l|j  ?K 
#:,  it  is  rubbed  into  a  powder  and  administered  in  water;  it  has  the 
effect  of  causing  men  to  renounce  wine;  the  bird's  head  is  a  good 
remedy  for  fish-bones  sticking  in  the  throat  (Ko  chi  king  yuan, 
chap.  80,  p.  3b) .  According  to  the  Pen  ts'ao  kang  mu,  the '  'water-flower 
of  Shu"  is  even  mentioned  in  the  Pie  lu,  and  T'ao  Hung-king  com- 
ments, "It  is  plentiful  in  the  valleys  with  streams;  it  is  necessary 
only  to  get  hold  of  it  oneself,  as  what  is  offered  in  the  markets  cannot 
be  trusted." 

As  the  cormorant  is  able  to  swallow  a  fish,  bone  and  all,  it  is 
easily  understood  that  in  the  pharmacopoeia  parts  of  the  bird  are 
recommended  as  relieving  one  from  fish-bones  sticking  in  the  throat. 
T'ao  Hung-king  prescribes  for  this  purpose  the  bird's  bones  to  be 
burnt  and  mixed  with  lime  and  water;  this  medicine  will  force  fish- 
bones down  the  throat.  Fan  Wang  ^a  £E,  a  physician,  at  the  time 
of  the  Eastern  Tsin  dynasty  (a.d.  317-419)  recommends  to  swallow  a 
cormorant's  beak  or  to  burn  a  cormorant's  wing  (prepared  in  the 
same  manner  as  the  bones  previously)  as  a  remedy  against  choking 
from  fish-bones;  even  an  inch  square  of  a  cormorant  administered 
will  bring  the  bone  down,  if  only  the  bird's  name  is  called  out  (T'ai 
p'ing  yu  Ian,  chap.  925,  p.  9).  Li  Shi-chen  extols  the  bird's  crop 
which  must  be  swallowed,  as  very  efficient  for  the  same  purpose. 

Finally  the  cormorant  appears  in  one  story  as  a  rain  bird.  In 
a.d.  797,  at  the  time  of  a  drought,  prayers  for  rain  were  offered  in 
the  Dragon  Hall  of  the  Hing-k'ing  Palace  JfiJf  M  f  M  U  &  f  I  fc 
when  a  flock  of  white  cormorants  appeared  above  a  pond,  grouped 
as  though  conducting  the  imperial  barge;  on  the  following  morning 

Folk-lore  of  the  Cormorant  257 

it  rained  ( Nan  pu  sin  shu  ^i  n&  $f  #,  written  by  Ts'ien  Yi  H  4* 

about  a.d.  975,  chap.  N,  p.  2b,  ed.  of  Yiie  ya  fang  ts'ung  shu. 

The  story  is  told  with  some  greater  detail  in  Kiu  Tang  shu;  see 

T'ai  p'ing  yii  Ian,  chap.  925,  p.  8b,  or  Yuan  kien  lei  han,  chap.  427, 

p.  8b). 

The  description  of  the  cormorants  as  "white"  in  the  above  text 

seems  somewhat  anomalous;  perhaps  there  is  confusion  with  herons. 

In  England  it  was  regarded  as  a  sign  of  rain  or  wind  when  cormorants 

and  gulls  bathed  themselves  much,  pruned  their  feathers,  nickered 

or  flapped  their  wings   (J.  Brand,   Observations  on  the  Popular 

Antiquities  of  Great  Britain,  III,  1888,  p.  218). 

Two  popular  sayings  in  the  Amoy  dialect  are  noted  by  Francken 

and  De  Grijs  (Chineesch-Hollandsch  Woordenboek  van  het  Emoi 

Dialekt,  p.  365,  Batavia,  1882): 

15  M  W.  *1  lo  tsi  k'o  am,  to  have  a  ring  around  the  neck  like 

a  cormorant;  i.e.,  not  to  be  wholly  one's  own  master. 

<&  M  &  £fl  H  HC  Ji  lo  tsi  bu  tsai  bu  ao  ts'ao,  the  cormorant  is 

not  conscious  of  the  odor  penetrating  from  under  its  tail;  i.e.,  not 
to  see  one's  defects. 

In  England  the  voracity  of  the  bird  was  proverbial,  and  Shake- 
speare likens  to  it  a  man  of  large  appetite,  as  "the  cormorant  belly" 
(Coriolanus,  1, 1),  "cormorant  devouring  Time"  (Love's  Labour's  Lost, 
I,  1),  "this  cormorant  war"  (Troilus  and  Cressida,  II,  2).  Compare 
T.  F.  Thiselton  Dyer,  Folk-lore  of  Shakespeare,  1884,  p.  108.  Harting 
(Ornithology  of  Shakespeare,  p.  260)  writes,  "Although  Shakespeare 
mentions  the  cormorant  in  several  of  his  plays,  he  has  nowhere 
alluded  to  the  sport  of  using  these  birds,  when  trained,  for  fishing; 
a  fact  which  is  singular,  since  he  often  speaks  of  the  then  popular 
pastime  of  hawking,  and  he  did  not  die  until  some  years  after  James  I 
had  made  fishing  with  cormorants  a  fashionable  amusement." 
E.  Phipson  (Animal-lore  of  Shakespeare's  Time,  1883,  p.  285)  also 
writes  that  Shakespeare's  references  to  the  cormorant  are  only  as 
an  emblem  of  insatiable  appetite. 

The  scanty  information  known  to  the  ancients  about  the 
cormorant  (if  indeed  it  refers  to  this  genus)  has  been  collected  by 
0.  Keller  (Die  antike  Tierwelt,  II,  p.  239). 

A  mythology  of  the  cormorant  exists  only  in  ancient  Japan  (see 
above,  p.  212)  and  among  the  Tlingit  and  some  other  Indian  tribes 
along  the  northwest  coast  of  America  (for  references  see  0.  Dahn- 
hardt,  Natursagen,  1910,  III,  pt.  1,  pp.  28,  29,  77,  105,  147,  232). 


The  earlier  works  on  China  which  make  reference  to  cormorant  fishing  have 
not  been  included  here,  as  Dr.  Gudger  (I)  has  canvassed  this  ground,  nor  is  men- 
tion made  of  modern  works  on  China  which  have  a  casual  reference  to  the  subject 
without  contributing  anything  new  or  worth  while. 

Anon. — Cormorant  Fishing.    East  of  Asia  Magazine,  Shanghai,  II,  1903,  pp.  95-97. 

Brief  description  inaccurate  in  several  points.  4  ill. 
Ball,  J.  Dyer.— Things  Chinese,  4th  ed.,  Shanghai,  1903,  pp.  181-183. 

Belvallette,  Alfred. — Traits  de  fauconnerie  et  d'autourserie.  Suivi  d'une 
6tude  sur  la  p§che  au  cormoran.    Paris,  1903. 

Brown,  Lucy  Fletcher. — Fishing  with  the  Birds  of  Gifu.  Japan,  XIV,  1925, 
pp.  23-24,  31.    3  ill. 

Chamberlain,  Basil  H. — Things  Japanese,  5th  ed.    London,  1905,  pp.  105-108. 

Cochrane,  May  L—  Harnessed  Birds  of  Gifu.    Asia,  XXV,  1925,  pp.  301-305. 

Dabry  de  Thiersant,  P. — La  pisciculture  et  la  p§che  en  Chine.  Paris,  1872, 
pp.  171-172,  plate  XIX,  fig.  1. 

David,  Armand,  and  Oustalet,  Emile. — Les  oiseaux  de  la  Chine.  Paris,  1877, 
pp.  532-533. 

Brief  description  of  the  species. 
Doolittle,  Justus. — Social  Life  of  the  Chinese.    London,  1868,  pp  36-38.    1  ill. 

Fauvel,  Albert-Auguste. — Promenades   d'un   naturaliste  dans  l'archipel  des 
Chusan  et  sur  les  cotes  du  Chekiang.    Cherbourg,  1880. 
Cormorant  fishing:  pp.  230-233  (valuable  observations). 
Floericke,  K. — Kormoranfischerei.    Kosmos,  XI,  Stuttgart,  1914,  pp.  30-33. 

Fortune,  Robert. — I.     Ten  Years'  Wanderings  in  the  Northern  Provinces  of 
China.  2d  ed.,  London,  1847, 1,  pp.  98-103.  3d  ed.,  London,  1853, 1,  pp.  86-90. 
II.    Two  Visits  to  the  Tea  Countries  of  China,  3d  ed.,  London,  1853, 
I,  pp.  86-90. 

Freeman,  G.  E.,  and  Salvin,  F.  H. — Falconry.  Its  Claims,  History,  and  Practice. 
To  which  are  added  Remarks  on  Training  the  Otter  and  Cormorant.  London, 

Fishing  with  Cormorants,  pp.  327-349. 
Fishing  with  Otters,  pp.  350-352. 
Gray,  John  Henry,  Archdeacon. — China,  II,  pp.  297-298.  ill.  London,  1878. 

Gudger,  E.  W. — I.  Fishing  with  the  Cormorant  in  China.  The  American 
Naturalist,  LX,  1926,  pp.  5-41.    16  ill. 

II.  Fishing  with  the  Cormorant  in  Japan.     The  Scientific   Monthly, 
XXIX.1929,  pp.  5-38.    31  ill. 

III.  Fishing  with  the  Otter.    The  American  Naturalist,  LXI,  1927,  pp. 
193-225.    6  ill. 

Hahn,  Eduard. — Die  Haustiere.    Leipzig,  1896,  pp.  347-350. 

Harting,  James  E. — Essays  on  Sport  and  Natural  History.  London,  1883, 
pp.  423-440:    Fishing  with  Cormorants. 

Ikenoya,  S. — Cormorant  Fishing.    Japan  Magazine,  1917,  pp.  31-32. 

Jametel,  Maurice. — La  Chine  inconnue.  Paris  (Rouam),  1886.  Chap.  XII: 
Le  faucon  a  poisson,  son  education,  pp.  207-213. 

Information  on  the  training  of  the  cormorant  copied  from  Fauvel. 


Bibliography  259 

Jordan,  David  Starr. — Fishing  for  Japanese  Samlets  on  the  Jewel  River.  Outing, 
XL,  1902,  pp.  23-25.    1  ill. 

Republished  in  Jordan's  Guide  to  the  Study  of  Fishes,  II,  New  York, 
1905,  pp.  116-118;  and  Fishes,  New  York,  1925,  pp.  142-144.    2  ill. 

Jouy,  P.  L. — On  Cormorant  Fishing  in  Japan.  American  Naturalist,  XXII, 
1888,  pp.  1-3. 

Korrigan,  Pol. — Causerie  sur  la  pfiche  fluviale  en  Chine.  Chang-hai,  Imprimerie 
de  la  Mission  Catholique,  1909. 

An  excellent  booklet.    Cormorant,  pp.  39-43. 

Kuroda,   Nagamichi. — Cormorant  Fishing  on   the  Nagara   River.     Japanese 

Magazine,  Tokyo,  XVI,  1926,  pp.  303-320.    16  ill. 
(Le  comte)  Le  Couteulx  de  Canteleu. — La  p§che  au  cormoran.    Paris,  Revue 

britannique,  1870. 

He  was  the  owner  of  a  flock  of  cormorants  at  his  castle  Saint-Martin. 

Leonhardt,  E. — Aus  China.  Deutsche  Fischerei  Correspondenz,  V,  1901,  June, 
p.  7;  July,  p.  3. 

A  few  data  on  the  training  of  the  cormorant  in  China. 

Pichot,  Pierre-Amedee. — Les  oiseaux  de  sport.    Paris  (A.  Legoupy),  1903. 

Cormorant:  pp.  27-35;  chiefly  with  reference  to  France  and  Japan. 

Rupprecht  Prinz  von  Bayern. — Reise-Erinnerungen  aus  Ost-Asien.  Munchen, 

Cormorant  fishing  in  Tamagawa  west  of  Tokyo,  pp.  322-323. 

Schmidt,  M. — Fortpflanzung  des  gemeinen  Cormorans  in  Gefangenschaft.  Der 
Zoologische  Garten,  XI,  1870,  pp.  12-18. 

Interesting  data  on  the  nesting  habits  and  breeding  of  the  cormorants. 

Seebohm,  Henry. — On  the  Cormorants  of  Japan  and  China.  Ibis,  5th  series,  V, 
1885,  pp.  270-271. 

Ornithological  classification  and  description. 

Smith,  Hugh  M. — I.  Japan,  the  Paramount  Fishing  Nation.  Transactions 
American  Fisheries  Society,  33rd  meeting,  1904,  pp.  129-132.    4  ill. 

II.    The  Fisheries  of  Japan.      National  Geographic  Magazine,  Wash- 
ington, XVI,  1905,  pp.  213-214.    3  ill. 

Sokolowsky,  Alexander. — Der  Kormoran  in  seinen  Beziehungen  zur  mensch- 
lichen  Wirtschaft.     Weltwirtschaftliches  Archiv,  Zeitschrift  fur  allgemeine 
und  spezielle  Weltwirtschaftslehre,  Jena,  XII,  1918,  pp.  315-320. 
With  a  short  bibliography. 

Sourbets,  G.,  and  Saint-Marc,  C.  de. — Precis  de  fauconnerie,  suivi  de  l'dduca- 
tion  du  cormoran.    Niort,  Clouzot,  1887. 

Sowerby,  Alfred  de  C— The  Cormorant  in  China.  China  Journal  of  Science 
and  Arts,  IV,  1926,  pp.  72-74.    4  ill. 

Special  Catalogue  of  the  Ningpo  Collection  of  Exhibits.  International  Fishery 
Exhibition,  Berlin,  1880.  Also  in  Ibis,  IV,  1880,  pp.  375-376;  and  Special 
Catalogue  of  the  Chinese  Collection  in  Great  International  Fisheries  Exhibi- 
tion, London,  1883. 

Information  on  cormorant  by  A.  A.  Fauvel. 

Stone,  Jabez  K.— Cormorant  Fishing  at  Gifu.  Japan,  VIII,  1919,  pp.  5-7,  44. 
5  ill. 

Williams,  S.  Wells. — Notices  in    Natural    History:  the   Loo-sze  or  Fishing 
Cormorant.    Chinese  Repository,  VII,  1839,  Canton,  pp.  541-543. 
Very  incomplete  translation  of  the  text  of  the  Pen  ts'ao. 


An-hui,  cormorant  fishing  in,  221,  222, 

Aston,  212,  213,  255 
ayu,  213,  231,  248,  253 

Buddhists,  attitude  of  toward  cormo- 
rant fishing,  225 

Chamberlain,  221 

Ch'ang-t'ing  hien  chi,  209 

Che-kiang,  cormorant  fishing  in,  227, 

Ch'en  Hao-tse,  223,  250 

Ch'en  Ts'ang-k'i,  224,  225,  255 

Cheng  lei  pen  ts'ao,  224,  225,  252 

Chi-li,  cormorant  fishing  in,  230,  237 

Cocks,  213 

cormorant,  Chinese  terminology  of,  208; 
folk-lore  of,  255 ;  geographical  distribu- 
tion of,  207,  227;  iconography  of,  251; 
Japanese  terminology  of,  211;  process 
of  domestication  of,  236 

Cormorant  Cliff,  210 

Cormorant  Embankment,  210 

Cormorant  Islet,  210 

Cormorant  Lake,  210 

Dabry  de  Thiersant,  238,  246,  258 
De  Guignes,  228,  243 
Doolittle,  228 
duet  fishing,  244 

eels,  preferred  by  cormorants  to  other 

fish,  238 
eggs,  of  cormorant,  237 
egrets,  tamed  and  kept  in  captivity, 

England,  cormorant  fishing  in,  206,  207 
Er  ya,  208,  214,  225 
Er  ya  i,  217,  223,  225 
Europe,  cormorant  fishing  in,  206 

falconry,  cormorant  fishing  compared 

with,  218,  229 
Fan  Chen,  218 
Fan  Wang,  256 
Fang  I-chi,  214,  219,  239 
Fang  shu,  256 

Fauvel,  210,  227,  238,  241,  246,  258 
fishermen's  gild,  244 
Florenz,  212 
Fortune,  206,  227,  229,  238,  240,  241, 

France,  cormorant  fishing  in,  206 
Fu-kien,  cormorant  fishing  in,  227-228 

Giles,  208,  209,  220,  221 
group  fishing,  244,  245 
Gudger,  205,  213,  230,  232,  237,  249, 
253,  254,  258 

Hahn,  236,  258 

Hai-hou  Tsie,  216 

harness  method  of  cormorant  fishing  in 

Japan,  234,  247 
Halting,  206,  207,  229,  236,  257,  258 
Hemeling,  211 
Hing-hua  fu  chi,  208,  227 
Hironaga,  254 
Hiroshige,  254 

Holland,  cormorant  fishing  in,  206,  207 
Ho-nan,  cormorant  fishing  in,  228 
Hu-nan,  cormorant  fishing  in,  228;  other 

fishing  in,  249 
Hu-nan  fang  wu  chi,  228,  235,  237 
Hu  Tse,  215 
Httan  Ying,  208 
Hui  Hung,  215 
Hwa  king,  223,  250 
Hwang  Ch'ao-ying,  218,  219 
Hwang  Kii-ts'ai,  251 

I  wu  chi,  221,  255 
Ikenoya,  213,  246,  258 
Indo-China,   cormorant  fishing  absent 
in,  235 

James  I,  fishing  with  cormorants,  206, 

Jametel,  246,  258 
Japan,  cormorant  training  and  fishing 

in,  212,  213,  231,  246-248 

Kao  K'i-p'ei,  251,  252 

Kiang-si,  cormorant  fishing  in,  228 

K'in  king,  221 

Kojiki,  212 

Korea,  cormorant  fishing  absent  in,  235 

Korin  Ogata,  253 

Korrigan,  228,  244,  252,  259 

K'ou  Tsung-shi,  255,  256 

Ku  yu  t'u  p'u,  252 

Kuroda,  213,  246,  259 

Kwang-tung,  cormorant  fishing  in,  228, 

Kwei-chou,  cormorant  fishing  in,  229 
K'wei-chou  fu  chi,  219 
K'wei-chou  t'u  king,  217 
K'wei  ku  chi,  219 
Kwo  T'wan,  219 

Lan  chen  tse,  215 




Lao-wa  Tan,  229 

Leng  chai  ye  hwa,  215,  217,  219 

Li  Po,  221,  253 

Li  Shi-chen,  208,  224,  225,  256 

Liu  K'o,  217 

Liu  Yii-si,  215 

Lo  Yuan,  217,  223 

Lu  Ki,  221,  249 

Lu  nung  shi,  215 

Lu  Tien,  250 

Ma-kia-hiang  t'ing  chi,  242 

Ma  Twan-lin,  232,  233 

Ma  Yung-k'ing,  214,  215 

Magnus,  Olaus,  207 

Man  sou  shi  hwa,  216 

ManySshu,  213 

Mao  shi  ts'ao  mu  niao  shou  ch'ung  yii 

su,  221,  249 
March,  Benjamin,  251 
Mendoza,  241 
Milton,  209 

Mollendorff,  209,  215,  217 
Mong  k'i  pi  fan,  215,  217 
Mong  liang  lu,  208 

Nachod,  221 

Nan  Man  ch'wan,  215,  216 

Nan  pu  sin  shu,  257 

Neng  kai  chai  man  lu,  215,  219 

Newton  209 

Nieuhoff,  210,  230,  237,  241,  242 

Nihongi,  212 

Ning-hua  hien  chi,  216,  239,  241,  242 

Odoric,  205,  241,  243 
ordure  of  cormorant,  as  a  remedy,  224, 
256;  considered  poisonous,  225,  255 
otter  fishing,  249 

Palladius,  209,  220 

Parker,  210,  229,  233 

pelican,  211 

Pelliot,  208 

Pen  ts'ao  kang  mu,  208,  224,  252 

Pen  ts'ao  kang  mu  shi  i,  239,  252,  256 

Pen  ts'ao  shi  i,  224,  255 

Pen  ts'ao  yen  i,  209,  255 

Pi  ki,  249 

P'i  ya,  215,  250 

Pichot,  206,  207,  236,  247,  254,  259 

Pie  lu,  256 

pig,  sacred,  216 

raft,  for  cormorant  fishing,  244 

raven,  worshipped  as  a  demon  in  Se- 
ch'wan,  216,  219 

Reinhardt,  233,  236 

ring  around  cormorant's  neck,  signi- 
ficance of,  241,  242 

Ripa,  228 

Salvin,  206,  207,  252 
San  ts'ai  t'u  hui,  252 

Se-ch'wan,  cormorant  fishing  in,  218, 

230,  231,  243 
Se-ch'wan  t'ung  chi,  218,  219 
Shakespeare,  257 

Shan-tung,  cormorant  fishing  in,  230 
Shao-hing  fu  chi,  227,  250 
Shao  Po-wen,  220 
Shen  Kwa,  215,  217,  219 
Shen-si,  cormorant  fishing  in,  230,  253 
Siang  su  tsa  ki,  215,  218 
Sin  siu  pen  ts'ao,  224 
Siren,  251 

solitary  fishing,  244,  249 
Sowerby,  230,  237,  238,  248,  253,  259 
Staunton,  242 
sturgeon,  214 
Su  Fang,  225 
Su  po  wu  chi,  214 
Su  Shi,  250 
Slian  ho  hwa  p'u,  251 
Sui  shu,  212,  219,  232 
Sung  K'i,  249 

Ta  Ming  i  t'ung  chi,  209 

T'ai  p'ing  yii  Ian,  212,  250,  255,  256, 

Tan-t'u  hien  chi,  209 
T'an  Ts'ui,  229 
Tang-t'u,  221,  222 
T'ao  Hung-king,  255,  256 
T'ao  Ku,  221 
team  method  of  cormorant  fishing  in 

Japan,  234,  247 
Tien  hai  yii  heng  chi,  229 
Ting-hai  t'ing  chi,  227 
Ts'ai  Kwan-fu,  215 
Ts'ai  shi  shi  hwa,  215 
Ts'ang  kie  p'ien,  208 
Ts'e-k'i  hien  chi,  227 
Ts'e  yuan,  defects  of,  223 
Ts'ing  i  lu,  209,  212,  214,  221,  245 
Tsing  k'ang  siang  su  tsa  ki,  218 
Ts'ing-t'ien  hien  chi,  227 
Tu  Fu,  209,  214,  215,  217,  218 
T'u  shu  tsi  ch'eng,  212,  222,  225,  252 
Tung  chai  ki  shi,  218 
T'ung  ya,  214,  216,  217 

Wang  Hi-chi,  255,  256 

Wang  Mou,  215,  218,  219 

Wang  Wei,  221 

Wen  hien  t'ung  k'ao,  232 

Wen  kien  lu,  220 

Wieger,  226 

Willes,  241,  245 

Williams,  208,  214,  256,  259 

Wu-ho,  reputed  for  breeding  cormorants, 

wu  kwei,  discussion  of  term,  214-221 
Wu  lei  siang  kan  chi,  250 
Wu  li  siao  shi,  239 
Wu  Tseng,  219 

262  Domestication  of  the  Cormorant 

Yang  Fu,  221,  255  Yuan  kien  lei  han,  257 

Yang  Shen,  217  Yukihide  Tosa,  253 

Ye  ko  ts'ung  shu,  215  Yule,  206 

Yeisen,  253  Yiin-nan,  cormorant  fishing  in,  229,  253 

Yi  ts'ie  king  yin  i,  208,  255  Yung-ch'un  chou  chi,  242 

Yu  yang  tsa  tsu,  215,  255 

Yii  yin  ts'ung  hwa,  215  Zach,  221 

Yuan  Chen,  216,  219,  221 

OCT  8  -  1931 




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Field  Museum  of  Natural  History 

Anthropology,  Vol.  XVIII,  Plate  XIV 

BY  KAO  K'1-P'EI 

Of  ^E 
«*E0U  0F  llL1H01S 

Field  Museum  of  Natural  History 

Anthropology,  Vol.  XVIII,  Plate  XV 



Photographs  taken  by  Floyd  Tangier  Smith  on  Min  River  near  Fuchow, 
Fu-kien  Province 




Field  Museum  of  Natural  History 

Anthropology,  Vol.  XVIII,  Plate  XVI 




Photographs  taken  by  Floyd  Tangier  Smith  on  Min  River  near  Fuchow, 

Fu-kien  Province